VoIP, Skype & Computerworld Redesign

Juha's away in LA and I'm sure it's purely a coincidence the power went out as he arrived. Not that he's prone to pulling out power leads just to see the PR people squirm. No, not at all.

Top Stories

- It's a VoIP world

- Those prices are insane

- Browse all about it

Guest editor: Paul Brislen

It's a VoIP world

Juha’s away in LA and I’m sure it’s purely a coincidence the power went out as he arrived. Not that he’s prone to pulling out power leads just to see the PR people squirm. No, not at all.

Which means we can talk about what’s really important instead of all the usual rubbish. So how’s things with you? Good?

They’re good with Woosh just at the moment. Two years, to the day they tell me, after launching the wireless network, Woosh has finally produced its voice service.

It’s been something of a rocky road for the company. My own belief is they were shafted by their tech partner, IP Wireless, who promised voice and then couldn’t deliver. Originally it was to be your full VoIP experience, with voice packets fighting for space side by side with all the rest of the traffic on the network. Oddly, that didn’t work so well.

Now Woosh has a dedicated channel to deliver voice which means they can guarantee quality of service so you don’t get that funny old echo, ghosting, missing packets, snap, crackle and pop that you can get on VoIP.

This is great news because, as we’ve seen in almost every country around the world, broadband alone isn’t enough to sell a service. Triple play is best, but we’re not likely to see that here until Telecom feels we need it.

Triple play is the combination package of voice, broadband and video and gets that broadband service out to the wider market that won’t pay $40 a month for fast internet access but will pay $99 a month for 57 channels of Australian soap opera repeats and cheap disease-of-the-week movies. Oh, and throw in some of that interweb thing as well.

So a double play is at least a step in the right direction. And Woosh says its new network gear means not only can the company differentiate and offer a separate voice channel but in future it can offer a separate video stream, a separate real-time games channel and so on. Nice.

Woosh launches long-awaited voice service – Computerworld

Those prices are insane

Call me insane but US$2.6 billion seems to be an awful lot to pay for a company that only turns over US$60 million a year.

Still, if someone wanted to pay me $2.6 billion for my company, I’d probably say “yup” as well.

Actually, when all is said and done, Skype might just be worth that much. Certainly eBay seems to think it is and eBay can certainly spot a bargain when it wants to.

But why would eBay want to buy Skype? Skype is all about the next big commodity market — voice calls — and eBay is all about commodity. It’s converted what was a costly business, buying stuff, into a game for the whole family and made a fortune doing it. It’s almost the last man standing from the dot-com days, along with Amazon of course, and it clearly knows a thing or two about the internet and the direction that commerce is taking online.

Still, it doesn’t really matter who owns Skype, so long as they maintain the current model. Free calls to other Skype PC users, cheap calls to landlines and pretty soon that US$60 million a year is going to be closer to a billion bucks per annum. That’s pretty good money for a company that doesn’t really own anything.

And what of the telcos? They’re clearly uncomfortable with the whole VoIP thing. Telecom is simultaneously rolling out its own IP network and spreading FUD about VoIP’s ability to wreak havoc on your home PC with viruses, spyware and all the rest.

Overseas, the situation isn’t too dissimilar. US telcos are lobbying the FCC to get VoIP made into some kind of competitive boogie man and the Chinese government is cracking down on anyone using the technology. Interesting that it’s the Land of the Free and the Other Superpower that are so upset by it.

So VoIP is proving itself to be that most disruptive of technologies. This is by no means a bad thing and I for one welcome our new cheap calling overlords.

EBay to acquire Skype for $3.7 billion

Browse all about it

Nielsen/NetRatings audited traffic to New Zealand magazine and newspaper websites earlier this month and found that Computerworld runs a clear third. Only the sites of the major dailies — the New Zealand Herald and Stuff — get more visitors.

We’re pretty pleased with that, but we’re not standing still. Next week visit computerworld.co.nz and admire our new design. Easier to read! Easier to navigate! Easier to tell all your friends about! And if there’s something you particularly like — or, heaven forbid, don’t like — then drop us a line at mailto:editor@computerworld.co.nz.

The new-look Computerworld (coming next week)

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