Friday, December 09, 2005

what the hell is skype doing....

other than killing themselves?

Ok, so eBay bought skype for a ridiculous amount of money....fine...i dont didn't cost me a cent and it didn't gain me a cent...but...
what the hell is skype doing now? Have you seen v2.0 beta? What kind of crap is that?

Lets go back a bit and analyze the history of instant messengers....rise and fall of IM brands according to me.

In the beginning there was was the first was was similar to Unix talk but included presence information...awesome....I was sold from day one. Then ICQ grew....and everybody I know got ICQ...and I was happy....and ICQ added features, and I was happy....and ICQ added more features...and then I was not so happy...initial configuration of ICQ became annoying (once set up it wasn't that bad...but remember....I am my neighborhoods friendly geek so I had to configure it for all friends and family too)....
Then came the rise of MSN Messenger... MSN had three features that where definite ICQ killers..the first one was the enter key...pressing enter would send the message...ICQ didn't have had to press ctrl-enter (or some key combination like that) or press SEND with the IM became more common, pressing the SEND button became annoying...MSN solved that. A simple ENTER made conversations much more fluid. The second feature was online storage of buddies. That was a big one too. ICQ required me to save buddies locally, back them up...copy them to another computer, install, etc. Using a friends computer (or a public terminal) didn't let me see if my users where online. MSN did. The third was simplicity. MSN started simple, it did what it had to do, messaging. That made MSN grow. Some people will say that the fact that windows messenger was included in windows made a difference...I doubt it, I don't buy it. But then messenger started to add "features". Some where useful (smilies as gifs) but most were crappy. Tabs made the interface cluttered, search boxes in the messaging window as well as the buddy list window where plain stupid. Adding remote assistance was a good idea, but the implementation was crappy (connections usually don't go through unless both have UPnP enabled routers). More and more and more crap has been added with time. Those useless avatars with moods, backgrounds, etc...all useless. In between a few good tools, but once again bad implementations. Good idea...lets have audio, but once again...requires UPnP and sip...connections take forever and with many sites they don't work because of the UPnP requirement. Same with video (which got to complex...there are video conferences, audio conversations, view webcam, many ways to do what essentially is the same....but actually use different protocols and formats...high complexity)...
ok, so now I am going to skip the part about AOL and yahoo...but they both did the same thing as MSN Messenger...they added useless features which made using the programs annoying.

So lets get back to skype.

Skype did things right from the very beginning. They concentrated on one feature...voice communications. They did it right. From the beginning betas audio thorough skype had several advantages over other implementations. 1) connected almost immediately on 99% of occasions. 2)sound quality...the voice quality was better than on analog phone conversations 3) simplicity....the whole program was mapped to its analog world counterparts...a ring sounded (surprisingly enough) like a ring. Ringback tone, busy tone, and all them....sounded just like they do in my phone....and the screen buttons used words/symbols I was used to (a phone, a hung up phone, etc). They called a call a "call" instead of "audio" as the others did. Skype was awesome, and I (as well as all my family) was happy. They added very useful features like skypein, skypeout, skype forward, voicemail, etc...all useful.

But then came the eBay buyout and now Skype 2.0....have you seen this abomination? What the hell are these people thinking? They arbitrarily changed all the sound events to what can easily be described as the "waterworld" motif. They created the worst implementation of contact grouping ever seen in instant messengers. They've added unneeded complexity, and have completely changed things in such a way that breaks with user expectations and comfort. They've added video which I suppose isn't such a bad idea (though I don't see anybody using video conferencing for anything other than cybersex). But other than video, all changed in skype 2.0 are for the worse. They also claim they will start adding all the useless crap (that's the 5 time I write crap in this post) that other messengers have already added (all the avatar, mood, background stuff).

Skype is in a position where they can differentiate themselves from the other IM's by being the "useful" IM...but instead it has opted to follow the herd and become the IM with features only 13 year olds will like. Since they intend to make eBay buyers use skype to communicate with sellers I the 13 year old demographic that big in eBay?

Good luck skype....hopefully you will backtrack...otherwise...hello google least they have a history of leaving things simple.


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