Friday, June 8, 2007

My Skype Update with Don Albert

Just trying to tie up some loose ends before the week is out. Was on the road Thursday, and today was packed with calls, so I'm a bit behind on my posts.

I wanted to share with you some highlights from my Skype meeting on Wednesday. Don Albert is Skype's VP and GM for North America, and was here in Toronto as part of a media tour. Skype was nice enough to include me in the mix, and I was happy to come down to meet with Don at eBay Canada's office, which is very close by for me.


Don provided a great overview of all the good things Skype is up to - all of which is public, and I'm just going to share the highlights here.

He updated me on the new features in version 3.2, especially the personalization features and expanded use of video. What I found most interesting are the expanded ways for using PayPal. Integrating Skype with PayPal is certainly one of the ways eBay is looking to make their investment in Skype pay off, so this isn't a surprise. However, it's really neat to see how you can now send funds via PayPal to anyone in your Skype contact list. It seems so obvious, and just think of how appealing this will be to people who want to send money back home to their families. Or sending money to your kids away at college. Great feature.

Don also updated me on how Skype is doing in Canada, and shared some metrics for the first time. That was very helpful, and all I can say is that Skype is pleased with their progress to date up here.

Finally, there was a nice display of Skype-compatible devices - some familiar and some not. I really liked the Philips cordless DECT phone, which allows you to access Skype without being on your PC. It's not available in Canada yet - hopefully later this year. Same for the IPEVO USB Skype phone. It's got a built-in display, so you can scroll through your Skype directory without having to go back to your PC screen or monitor. And then there's the Belkin WiFI phone, with Skype pre-loaded. WiFi access, of course is always a wildcard, but it's branded as being Boingo friendly, although I don't think that does us much good up here. I should also add that Skype has a retail deal now with WalMart, so they're definitely going mainstream - no surprise there!

On the Canadian front, I'm planning to do a podcast soon with Don to talk specifically about the market here, so watch for that in the next few weeks.

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