Skype 5.0 News: 6 Reasons Redux

Yesterday while I was at a conference Skype announced on their blog that they were dropping the ‘beta’ label from their Mac release, and that group calling would now be a paid feature.  Obviously, I had to respond.  🙂

I have a lot of fun talking about Skype because I think their decision to move towards enterprise is correct, but that they’re a couple years away from having functionality competitive to VSee, WebEx, and the like.  (See the original Skype Group Calling? 6 Reasons I’m not Scared.Skype Group Calling? 7 MORE Reasons I’m not Scared., or this list for all our Skype posts.)

However, they now have an official Mac version, something we can’t claim just yet.  We’ve got a long-standing alpha version that should move to beta in the next few months, and we’re committed to having mobile apps this year.

On the other hand, Skype gave us an easy opening by charging for group calling—something we did better in the first place.  We may as well start there and run down a few crucial comparisons:

1)  Skype’s group calling is no longer free.  At $5/day or $9/month, this feature is now priced equivalently to VSee’s $10/month Team license.   VSee’s group calling is still free for personal use!

2)  Skype only allows up to 10 callers.  VSee is restricted only by what your system can handle…and it uses fewer resources than Skype.

3)  Skype’s only “collaboration” tool is a desktop share.  It cannot be remotely controlled nor annotated, and as such isn’t very collaborative.  VSee allows remote control/coediting and annotation not just of desktops but for ANY window (with one click!), and also has drag-and-drop file transfers.  (Oh, yeah:  This is all still free for personal use!)

4)  Speaking of the desktop share:  Skype only lets you send video OR share the desktop.  You can’t be seen while sharing with Skype.  With VSee, you can “See. Share. Send.” all at the same time.

4)  Skype uses supernodes (and now “mega-supernodes”) and, due to encryption concerns, cannot be used by the government, financial, and healthcare industries.  VSee is used in all of three.

5)  Skype traps you in their layout.  Despite all the advances of Skype 5.0, they still keep all the video windows in a template that you have limited control over.  Likewise with their address book.  VSee lets you move or resize every video and shared window, as well as the address book, directly on the desktop.

6)  Okay, fine.  Here’s another one for Skype:  Making phone calls is built in.  But between my smartphone and Google Voice—and for most people the phone on their desk—I don’t find this a big deal.  In fact, as more people rely on Skype for video, and since Skype never made much money on the long-distance thing anyway, I’d guess Skype knows this, too.

I mean, hey, they’re now trying to become a business collaboration tool, right?

Comments ( 4 )
  • admin
    Rich Griffin says:

    Great post John and another telling example of Skype missing the Unified Communications boat again. VSee’s ability to federate users with ActiveDirector is further evidence of VSee’s proper placement within the UC landscape – something Skype tries to emulate with ticky-tacky plugins or their horribly-implemented SIP gateway.

    But another huge differentiator is the call quality of VSee. I have, time and again, experienced Skype video calls that fluctuate radically in quality throughout a session. With VSee (because of Dr. Chen’s super-awesome lip-sync magic and low bit rate utilization) users experience a consistency of quality throughout a session. I would argue that this consistency of lip-sync, smooth motion and pretty decent visual and voice quality goes a long way towards a nearly unconscious immersion into the session – the technology fades to black. I find I’m more attentive to the other participants and peripheral sharing of assets more than with a solution (Skype or any other) that forces my attention back to the technology by constantly fluctuating frame rate/lip-sync or visual artifacts. HD’s cool if all the participants have the pipes and silicon to support a seamless experience but that is not how most people are using visual communications any longer. A recent Forrester research report (http://www.readwriteweb.com/enterprise/2011/01/video-in-the-enterprise.php) reports little interest in corporate investment in HD and less future interest in traditional room systems. The desktop is where most investments will be made. For that, standard definition is more than adequate. For just how much resolution is required; here is an excellent overview (http://www.nojitter.com/archives/2010/01/how_much_video_1.html)

    These are the factors, for me at least, that will always position VSee ahead of Skype.

  • admin
    Florian Dargel says:

    “However, they now have an official Mac version, something we can’t claim just yet. We’ve got a long-standing alpha version that should move to beta in the next few months”

    Where can I get the alpha for Mac? I’ve been waiting/monitoring you site for over a year now and no sign so far… Would like to test it soon before Skype (despite all the issues you address) gets entrenched in our workplace.

  • admin
    john says:

    Thanks for waiting it out with us Florian! We appreciate it. Please email us about your use case and we’ll see what we can do. As it’s “alpha”, we really don’t want to make it generally available and, in retrospect, I’m not sure I should have mentioned it here in the blog. In our defense, last year we kept getting higher priority requests from our big deployments–a happy problem–several of which led to some of the significant usage improvements you’ve seen. This year, however, we have firm commitments to get that Mac version out, so stay tuned.

  • admin
    Rich Griffin says:

    Not to continue the beating of the dead Skype horse but here is an interesting discussion on Skype’s group calling policy – http://skypejournal.com/2011/02/09/gvc-limits/

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