A lot of die-hard Skype fans worry that Microsoft’s acquisition of the company is going to change it, and not for the better.  Yesterday’s news that Skype For Asterisk will be discontinued didn’t help, generating speculation that this action is a result of their impending acquisition.

Before we rush to declare the “Micro-Skype ApocalypseTM”, let’s consider a few facts.

Skype has two very similar competing offerings in market that will allow an Asterisk PBX to connect to the Skype Network – Skype for Asterisk and Skype Connect.  One (Skype for Asterisk) sells for a very low one-time license fee, and the other (Skype Connect) sells on a subscription basis with additional charges for minutes of usage.  Skype Connect must be dramatically more profitable than Skype for Asterisk.

Skype for Asterisk has issues that limit its use in business.  For example, it can’t forward a call from the PBX without stripping caller ID.  How do you build a modern call center without caller ID?  Those in the know say that this is a limitation of the Asterisk channel driver, and not a Skype limitation. After all, Skype Connect doesn’t have that limitation. It appears that Digium may not have given the priority to Skype for Asterisk that it needed to be successful.

The business fundamentals don’t favour Skype for Asterisk.

Moreover, the agreement with Microsoft doesn’t come into effect until it has cleared regulatory approval.  Skype would be foolish to make decisions about apparently important partnerships solely at the behest of their new owners before gaining regulatory clearance.

Granted, Microsoft competes with Digium.  But business fundamentals, as opposed to Microsoft influence, are a far more likely reason for Skype’s decision not to renew the Skype for Asterisk agreement with Digium.

Sometimes it just makes sense to sunset a product that isn’t working out.

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Irv Shapiro’s IfByPhone is an interesting company to watch.  Focused on automating sales, marketing and business processes for it’s customers, IfByPhone has grown by leaps and bounds by offering simple voice based applications that enhance small and medium businesses sales.  It’s a pretty simple idea – help your customers grow their sales, and you’ll grow your own.

Today IfByPhone announced the acquisition of Seattle-based CloudVox. The move addresses a significant gap in IfByPhone’s offering – customizability — by giving customers the ability to easily create their own applications that leverage the IfByPhone infrastructure.  Cloudvox is open telephony in the cloud. According to Shapiro:

“Cloudvox provides multi-tenent Asterisk 1.6 hosting, with full support for AGI and AMI in a hosted environment.  Build any Asterisk AGI/AMI applications, using any programming language,  for example Adhearsion, and then just point it at the Ifbyphone Cloudvox service to gain access to carrier grade telephony with expansive capacity.

Unlike Twilio or Tropo, Cloudvox applications are fully portable and will run on any Asterisk server. This is really the magic.  The combination of Cloudvox and Ifbyphone provide an Amazon EC2 style of environment to developers building telephone applications.”

It’s an important business move for IfByPhone, as until now the growth of their business would have been constrained by their ability to crank out new applications to meet customer demand.  With the Asterisk-based CloudVox platform, legions of telecom developers can now do that on behalf of IfByPhone.

Shapiro is quoted in the acquisition announcement saying “Businesses can rent an existing application from us and tightly integrate their business with that app. Or they can now use Cloudvox to build their own portable, open application from scratch and still take advantage of our cloud infrastructure and phone expertise.”

That’s Voice 2.0 business, and a nice position to own in the market. 


SquawkBox September 26 – Skype for Asterisk, Apple NDAs, and Networked Workers

September 26, 2008

Yesterday was the announcement of Skype for Asterisk – a channel driver for Asterisk that allows Skype users to call into Asterisk PBX’s, and for employees of those business to use Skype to call their customers. With this move, Skype becomes a powerful addition to the Asterisk VAR’s kitbag.  What does it mean for employees, […]

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Trademarks, brands and Asterisk

January 20, 2008

The team at Digium had a bit of a rocky ride this week over their latest effort to protect the Asterisk trademark.  They had submitted a list of organizations authorized to use the Asterisk trademark to Google, and asked Google to restrict advertisements using the term Asterisk to those licensees.  It provoked an uproar in […]

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Digium announces 1 million downloads

December 19, 2007

The team at Digium cranked out a nice little momentum release this morning, announcing "the one millionth download of Asterisk in 2007".  Was that one million downloads in 2007, or the one millionth overall since the inception of the company?  Either way it's a huge number, when you consider that Asterisk is a PBX.  How […]

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Digium Scores with 3COM

October 1, 2007

"So, tell me about your deal with 3COM", I asked.  "Sure," came the answer.  "But first can I give you a little background on this and our acquisition of SwitchVox?" And that's how my interview with Digium CEO Danny Windham started.   Windham came to Digium earlier this year.  A stranger to Open Source, he immersed […]

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Neophonetics delivers UM platform, on Asterisk

September 13, 2007

Although much less visible in the last few months, Asterisk and the Asterisk community continues to chug along, demonstrating the tremendous value that open source telephony solutions bring.  For instance, just this past week at IT Expo, Neophonetics announced a unified messaging platform based on Asterisk Business Edition, including: Multi-tenant voicemail for one telephone or […]

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Digium gets another new VP

May 8, 2007

Executive appointments aren't usually very newsworthy items.  That's the reason you frequently see them as paid advertising items in the print paper, rather than publised as news items.  Yesterday, however, newly minted Digium CEO Danny Windham rounded out his exec team with a new VP of Engineering, David Deaton. A former Adtran colleague of Windham's, Deaton […]

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WorxBox looks promising

February 11, 2007

WorxBox is … The Asterisk Server with the Worx®! The goal of the Worxbox® project is to provide a production quality Open-Source Unified Communications Server that’s easy to build, configure and manage. WorxBox® installs all the software needed to deploy a fully functional Asterisk® based PBX and creates a basic configuration which can then be […]

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Setting up Asterisk, easily

January 17, 2007

Over on the Asterisk VoIP News blog, Dal has posted directions on how to get Asterisk Business Edition working properly on Fedora Core.  It’s valuable stuff, as so many Linux distributions are just a little different.  We should expect to see more of these kinds of postings as Asterisk hits more mainstream markets.  The real solution, […]

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