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Skype Store and Forward IM: The Worst of Both Worlds

Andy Abramson mentioned a phenomenon I’ve noticed many times with Skype: IM sometimes shows up much later than sent.    Specifically, if you IM someone who isn’t online, Skype somehow stores that up, and sends it later. 

At first, this looked like a great feature to me – a hybrid between IM and email.  It seemed be exactly in line with Stowe Boyd’s prediction that IM will come to dominate communications. In reality, Skype’s approach is really the worst of both worlds.  It’s not instant, and there’s no guarantee that the IM will actually arrive the next time the person logs in.  It seems to arrive only when the right alignment of the planets occurs, and the moon is in the seventh house…  

I think the approach taken by MSN makes much more sense.  MSN allows the user to register an SMS address as well, so that if offline, the IM can be directed to SMS.  And if the user is truly offline, MSN simply says you can’t send them an instant message at that time. 

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Greg December 11, 2005, 1:43 pm

    I am glad to know that it wasnt just me who was having the hell time with Skype's IM service. I was having a conversation via Skype with someone last week and we were WAY off base. Our IM's were crossing many minutes apart – it was strange and not productive whatsoever. They have to handle that. I find MSN, Yahoo and AOL IM services much more reliable – I manage all 3 of my account with Trillian. Its streamlined. Skype is the only unreliable free standing service I have come across so far.

    – G

  • Andy Abramson December 11, 2005, 2:44 pm

    And Skype already has Skype Forward for voice. How hard is their API to work with tosend text to a mobile? Or is that one of the areas they want to monitize. Well lets see, eBay already IM's you when you are outbid so I guess the technology is there….

  • Stowe Boyd December 11, 2005, 2:49 pm

    Offline messages have been implemented in many IM systems; that's what I was getting at. Not some haphazard delay, but something engineered to work more or less like email, but that you would receive in you IM client, and you'd be able change tempo with: immediately return to IMing with the sender.

  • Alec December 11, 2005, 4:18 pm

    I think your view, Stowe, makes sense. It's the unpredictabilityof the Skype system that's the problem.

  • Alec December 11, 2005, 4:23 pm

    Andy, there was a Skype to SMS gateway built last year by a company called Connectotel. I don't know if it's still available. The idea was simple, though. All you had to do was Skype IM to connect to a specific user account, and give it the details of the SMS message.

  • Tibor February 6, 2006, 10:34 am

    Sorry this is not exactly on topic, but do anybody of you know where Skype IM stores its conversations? I thought it's on my hard drive, but its not, until i hit the "View conversation" from the Contact menu. Then it creates/uptades chosen conversation into an html file. Does this mean it is, until then, stored on Skype's server? Isn't it a privacy issue? Thanks for your thoughts.


  • Alec February 6, 2006, 11:31 am

    I don't. Sorry Tibor!

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