In a speech glutted with market data, Skype CSO Chris Dean began his remarks at VON by saying that there is an ongoing sea change in the telecom market, and it’s only accelerating. The macro trends are around wireless, wireline, emerging applications and service models, the economy and the regulatory environment. And he warned that there are immense risks to operators that don’t adapt.
According to Dean, 35% of Skype customers are using the product for business in some form, and 20% use video for business purposes. 95% chose Skype to save money, 62% say they communicate better, 70% say the use it for travel, and 80% say they see increased productivity.
Reaching out to wireline carriers, wireless carriers, MSO’s, OEMs, VARs, application developers and independent software vendors, Dean said that Skype is “no longer the bad-boy disruptive influence” it once was. He then went on to announce a new relationship with Cisco, and a channel program for service partners that will roll out later this year.
It was a sound and welcome riposte to the criticism that Skype has abandoned its ecosystem.
I’ve been at the VON show in Miami Beach the last couple of days. This has been the first VON since the show was acquired out of bankruptcy by Virgo Publishing. This VON lacks the panache of VON founder Jeff Pulver. Attendance, at 3,000, was lower than in the past, and the exhibit hall smaller – a reflection no doubt of the economy and the fact that others have moved to fill the gap left when VON disappeared 18 months ago. Nevertheless, Virgo has done a credible job of resurrecting the VON assets, and it’s good to see VON back.
One welcome addition to the VON formula is Virgo’s undeniable strength in publishing. The show daily, for example, includes well written pieces on upcoming panels like the one I hosted today. In addition, editor Richard Martin’s daily VON newsletter delivers a quick summary in email of all that’s happening in the VoIP industry. It’s become a daily read for me.
Finally, Virgo have overlapped the final day of VON with the 3 day Channel Partner’s conference. VON is about the technology and technology directions. Channel Partners is about the business of selling, installing, and maintaining telecom products.
When asked, one exhibitor that I spoke with said traffic was low, but the quality of the attendees and meetings he was having were high. I’d concur. The first VON under new management was a quality, if low key, affair.