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Tilting at Open Source Windmills

Now that Microsoft has bought Skype, calls for the creation of an open source Skype Killer are starting to be heard.  They’re delusional.  There’s only one Skype, and only likely to be one Skype simply because the protocol is closed and the momentum behind Skype is enormous.  That’s why Microsoft bought them, instead of trying to make MSN Messenger into a Skype killer.

Richard Stallman himself is suggesting that many alternatives to Skype already exist.  He points to a list of GNU projects all built around SIP, which is the open standard that provides similar services to Skype.  SIP, however, has never achieved the ubiquity, or momentum in the market that Skype has. 

In a communications product, which depends on network effects for utility, momentum is everything.  It’s a virtuous circle – each new user brings a network of more new users.  Skype has the momentum, and nobody else does. 

Can you say “tilting at windmills”, children? I thought you could!

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