eBay To Purchase Skype For 2.6 Billion (USD)

BBC news reports that rumours have been confirmed in that eBay is set to purchase Internet telephony leader Skype. eBay plans to pay half in cash, half in stock, and create “an unparalleled e-commerce and communications engine.”

So why would the world’s largest eCommerce site want to get into VoIP? Well, in part, “using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, computer users can talk to each other via a headset or microphone and speakers.” And of course, to purchase a market leader in a greatly emerging business sector may not be such a bad idea either.

8 thoughts on “eBay To Purchase Skype For 2.6 Billion (USD)

  1. p.s.

    Found this information.

    Skype is a non-standards based telephony system. And that is how Ebay will try to use Skype to monopolize the telephony business by shutting ‘free/open’ systems out. Basically, my understanding is that Skype’s approach is similar to a .doc/.xls/.ppt proprietary format. It is not interoperable, but if enough people use it, the network effect will be established (seems that way already) and it will be difficult to bust. My knowledge of VoIP is limited so I might not be accurate about this, but this is what I understand.

    Skype doe not even support SIP as far as I know.

  2. I’m sure of one thing – Skype does not use an open standard. And that should be enough to make anyone back away from it no matter how cool, slick, or convenient the technology is. SIP is a standard anyone creating internet telephony can adopt.

    Supporting Skype – in its current form – is like saying “Hey! This Microsoft Office suite the greatest thing! Come on everyone – jump on board!” And before you know it, you are controlled by .doc, .ppt, .xls etc. formats and nobody can compete in an ethical way in this area of business because the network effect is so strong. Due to a lack of understanding of what consumers support (i.e. jumping on the bandwagon), a competitive playing field is eroded by lack of interoperability. Sure, you can make an office suite, but you will be locked out due to non-open standards no matter how innovative your product is. This is why the adoption of OpenDocument (used in OpenOffice) is so critical – I encourage everyone to support what the state of Massachusetts is aiming for and applauding those making the calls for not backing down to corporate $$$ pressure. Any support users can give toward telephony that supports open standards, I believe, is critical.

    The other issue is that Skype is proprietary software. First, I don’t completely share the philosophy of the “Open Source” movement. I’m a free software (or F/OSS) supporter. I appreciate that Open Source supporters have contributed so much great free software to the free software movement, but the neglect of the ethical and social issues surrounding the need for free software in favor of the practical advantages is unfortunate. But no matter how you cut it, I would think that even most Open Source supporters would agree that an Internet application that will be handling YOUR private phone calls should be F/OSS. To support a proprietary application that handles private data is almost as insane (but not quite) as supporting Diebold’s software to count votes in a supposedly democratic country. Why support software that can’t be examined for privacy/security – especially in the realm of telephony?

    But then again, I’m one of those crazy free software people who – perhaps – has gone off the deep end. ;)

  3. I remember I did tried SIP, but it didnt worked properly. Then after some frustrating sessions with MSN I switched to Skype, and worked very well. I guess now I´ll have to try SIP again. BTW Have you tried Google Talk yet? How does it fits in all this?

    I agree with you, there has to ve an open option, and with open I´m talking about formats/standards…

  4. No, I’ve never tried GoogleTalk. Two problems for me – 1) as far as I know, it does not run on any free operating system (i.e. GNU/Linux – I’m currently an Ubuntu freak since Alec got me hooked) and 2) it is proprietary itself. I’m allergic to proprietary software so I can’t use it for health reasons. I break out in a rash when I agree to a license that says I can’t help myself or my friends. :)

    BUT, I support the fact that GoogleTalk uses the Jabber protocol. This way, other messaging clients can connect to the GoogleTalk network.

    As for SIP, I’ve heard that there are issues around its ability to penetrate through firewalls. I’m not a technician so I can’t elaborate. I hope this can be worked around. Or, one could purchase a product from PhoneGnome which is a standalone box. It supports SIP and likely runs proprietary software where proprietary software belongs – embedded inside devices that do not facilitate the loading of programs by a user (i.e. devices other than a computer).

  5. Thanks for the reply. Oh well when it cames to health issues, there is nothing more to say huh? ;*)

    It is curious, thought, I just installed Ubuntu in my computer. Few days ago. So I´m gonna try SIP again (and I wasnt behind any firewall before). I hope it works this time.

    Again, thanks for the interesting and informative replies.

  6. Great conversation Peter and Talya. I appreciate all of this information around this. I think Peter did a great job of covering this, but after doing a bit of research, I do really like openwengo (Peter mentioned this in his first post) as opposed to any of the alternatives. A couple of other software packages include Gizmo (http://www.gizmoproject.com/) and PhoneGaim (http://www.phonegaim.com). While both are SIP-based … support open-standards … neither are open source. That’s where openwengo has the advantage over all of these.

    It will be interesting to see how any of these play out. I am in a province where there is so much regulation around telephony that I see some obstacles arising around such companies using another company’s broadband. For instance, take a look at this telling chart … ( http://www.vonage.ca/avail.php?lid=nav_avail) … click on ‘Canada’ and note my province … Saskatchewan … the white one that is totally removed from the Vonage coverage area. Of course, this is just one province.

    I can see some big and scarcy things happening though … Google obviously will be a big player, but I do see other smaller startups, or even some open source code going into commercial targets. And I am certain that the major phone companies will move into their own VoiP services to make it difficult for the other startups to survive.

    Of course, there is hope … but I think there are struggles ahead in this area, especially if the dominant forces in this market force their own protocols on the oblivious public.

    Thanks again for all of your thoughts!

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