As of this morning the skype site shows 635,000 downloads and counting. It is quickly becoming the new rage on the web replacing inferior voice over IP (VoIP) clients. The sound quality, even on a dial-up is impressive and for broadband users it is better than traditional telephone lines. Start saving dollars on long distance to your fellow netizens right now by downloading Skype.
VoIP enables users to make calls from their PC using peer-to-peer, their computer speakers and microphone or a headset combo (several are available from Amazon or other electronic outlets). While Skype doesn't allow calling phone numbers as of the time of this writing, the rumors are abuzz that this feature will be coming, possibly when they make the move out of beta status. I've been covering SKype's buzz since a week or so after it made its beta downloadable and it has been a fascinating road.
Skype will allow you to call your friends, family, associates and yes, even strangers all over the world for free (as of this writing, anyway). Since it is a beta product I don't think it's wholly appropriate for me to officially review Skype but since I just searched and didn't see any other articles on blogcritics about it, I figured I should fill in the gap on this interesting and useful application.
It debuts courtesy of some of the folks responsible for the spyware-infested Kazaa, but the good news with SKype is that it currently contains absolutely no adware or spyware. The End User License Agreement (EULA) says that they do intend to charge something for the service and suggests that it would be free for those to call people who are subscribers but cost some type of fee for PC to PC non-subscriber calling. No word yet on what the pricing will be but I do have some suggestions to at least throw out for discussion.
How about $4.95 a month or $29.95 year for unlimited PC to PC calling, and include a voice mail function and conference calling for paid subscribers? I would also suggest that they don't do what they are saying in their EULA and allow at least limited free PC to PC calling. Perhaps 1000 minutes a month or something like cell phone carriers do with nights and weekends. Bandwith isn't free so expecting them to do unlimited free is a portent to death (anybody remember All Advantage which paid folks to surf or those free ISP services?). Free services cannot sustain. Even recently the creator of blogrolling stopped accepting free user signups because he claimed 95%+ of the folks that signed up didn't pay and were affecting those who did. So for those cheapskates who think Skype should forever be unlimited free, get real.