Monday, September 26, 2005

Don't Believe the Skype?

In response to my fit of techno-evangelism about Skype, two people who, unlike me, sound like they actually know about computers write in with fairly convincing arguments against it.

From Galley Reader P.G.:
. . . don’t use Skype yet. It’s a security problem waiting to happen. We’ve banned it here at [redacted] because it opens various network vulnerabilities (Unicode bufferoverflow, DoS attacks) that while not as serious as any of the IE vulnerabilities, are still dangerous. If you want to stick it to Verizon (the DEVIL!!!!!!!), go out and get Vonage or some other established VoIP connection. Before you do so, make sure you’ve a battery backup in your home and a cell phone provider that you can get a signal from inside your house. The battery backup gives you internet connectivity when the power goes out for a few hours, and the cell phone so you can set your VoIP to forward to the cell phone when the ISP connection is down.

Some of the technical nitty-gritty is available here.

Yikes. Then there's this comment from The Smoking Room's Greg:
Since you've been getting flak from readers who don't like your Old Media defenses, let me express my surprise that you're such a huge fan of Skype. "Going to destroy the already-maimed traditional telecom companies"? I'm no defender of the legacy telcos, but this is beyond the blog boosterism of Jarvis and Reynolds. VoIM (voice over instant messenger) is indeed a cool technology and kudos to Skype for extending it past the IP network to traditional and mobile phones. Maybe Skype would have been a good purchase for Verizon, but its asking price was pretty far beyond what it had proved. It has tens of millions of downloads but no one's sure how many people are actually using it. As we've seen with Google Talk, which was preceded by PC-to-PC offerings from Yahoo and MSN, this is a field that's going to get crowded and Skype may not have the best long-term plans for monetizing it. And as we're seeing with the FCC kerfuffle, VoIP carries with it a host of complicated and expensive regulatory issues associated with the social obligations of the telcos. Verizon, News Corp. and other likely buyers might have been worried the added regulation would have outweighed their ability to profit from it. As a complementary voice service - not intended to replace an existing service - eBay might be able to actually increase its volume of business with little additional outlay. It's likely the telcos will move to an all IP backbone, as BT is doing now, but acquiring the standalone IP telephony providers may not be their cheapest route.

I'm reasonably convinced, unless others want to chime in. . .

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