Submitted by acohill on Mon, 11/28/2005 - 12:11
Skype has announced a deal with Radio Shack to have the electronics retailer sell Skype-ready phones and headsets.
The old Betamax-VHS battle is a reminder that the best technology does not always win. Skype uses proprietary (free) software, which is good for Skype but is not necessarily a good choice over the long term for consumers, as it does not interoperate with Open Source-based software and voice protocols. Skype locks you in to using their software.
But what Skype has is an early lead and the potential to force the marketplace into making Skype a de facto standard.
One of the troubling issues is the potential disaggregation of the telephone service market. We may need multiple telephone numbers....a cellphone number, a Skype number, a landline number, an Open Source SIP number. This could all turn out to be a big mess and a major headache. As the business market for telephone service evaporates--meaning no one can make any money selling phone service--the unified, worldwide, call anywhere and receive calls from anywhere phone system may just fall apart.
There is one bright spot--the Internet geeks have been working on this problem for several years, and the ENUM registry promises a quick and easy way to make the phone number problem minimal. But companies like Skype may not want to use an open standard that helps level the playing field for competitors.
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