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Why I dumped the other IM networks for Skype

Yesterday morning I twittered that I was abandoning all my previous IM systems and standardizing on Skype.  It generated some interesting responses in the blogosphere, which I didn’t really expect.  To me, it was a bit of a non-event. I just wanted people to know how to reach me.

In any case, I’ve now shut down both GTalk and MSN Messenger on all my PCs, leaving them with a status message which simply says “Contact me on Skype”. This after shutting down my Yahoo! Messenger and AIM accounts over a year ago.

Why?

There are perhaps three or four people I know who use these other tools to message with me anymore.  The vast majority of people in my orbit (you may be different) have migrated to Skype.  So why:

  1. go through the startup pain associated with starting a bunch of IM clients that I don’t use.
  2. sacrifice the memory and processor cycles on my pc to run a bunch of IM clients that I don’t use.
  3. gum up my system tray and start menu with a bunch of icons for IM clients that I don’t use.

You see my point, I’m sure.  The other IM clients are perfectly useful.  There’s nothing wrong with them.  I just don’t have any need for them, anymore.  My network doesn’t include folks who can’t reach me any other way as they all seem to have migrated to Skype.

Telecom operators are often held up as backward dinosaurs, especially compared to the keepers of the “open” flame in the internet community.  Those telecom operators quite happily pass telephone calls and text messages from one network to another, though.

By comparison, two and a half years ago, Microsoft and Yahoo! announced that their networks would interoperate.  At the time many of us called for them to deliver an open specification, delivering us from the IM Gulag that the industry has created.  Today there is still no respite in sight.

Ironic isn’t it?  And would Skype have been able to achieve this dominance if MSN, Yahoo, AOL et al had chosen to open their networks, treating their IM clients as virtual handsets rather than as advertising platforms?

We’ll never know.

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Olle Johansson November 26, 2008, 5:50 am

    I completely agree that there’s too much fragmentation in the IM space. Just look at the list that pidgin/adium users get when they want to connect. For the normal user, this just means disconnect.

    I noticed that the winner depends on the country. While MSN is the winner in Sweden, it’s not the winner in all european countries.

    My personal bet right now is Jabber/XMPP, which is a federation, not a service. Much like e-mail, I talk with our domain from my domain’s server. That scales. MSN, Skype and the rest doesn’t scale. But remember, it’s a bet. You can still reach me on Skype and other networks…

  • Matt Gibson November 26, 2008, 11:57 am

    Agreed with Olle, Jabber/XMPP will be /is the future of IM. Skype, while cool, still doesn’t match the features and usability of Jabber networks.

    Want MSN? Want AIM? Want Yahoo? Want IRC? Want AD Integration? All possible with one client, and one server. The rest can’t really say that.

    Good post tho, it’s nice to see people consolidating their networks, I did this way back in 2003 and if people can’t reach me, tough luck!

  • Jason November 26, 2008, 4:35 pm

    Personally, I’ve found skype too frustrating to use.

    It has some definite problems with notifying you when people come online. If I want to IM someone, I have to first attempt to call them and hang up before it will update their status to online!

    That’s just crazy.

  • matt roberts November 27, 2008, 12:13 am

    This also comes after you bought the atom/HP netbook. I Did the same thing when I bought my Acer Aspire though i went to gTalk.

    These PC's just can't take the 4 different IM's i was using. That said, you may wish to look at digsby.

  • Hudson Barton November 27, 2008, 9:31 am

    Skype’s IM holding its own despite being a closed network. Go figure!

  • Alec November 27, 2008, 9:37 am

    It’s been an interesting experience deciding what is really necessary.

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