The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Skype Is Underrated …
April 7, 2011, 5:52 am
Filed under: Comment

I love my Mum.

I try to talk to her everyday, however when I first left England – way back in 1995 – the cost of doing that was so prohibitive that I could only spend about 2 quick minutes chatting down at the local phone box at the bottom of Corrimal Street in Wollongong.

Phone box … bloody hell, you hardly see those anymore do you.

The thing is, not only was it hard being on the other side of the planet, but my Dad was very ill so I wanted to know how he was going which meant those precious few minutes each night talking to my Mum were packed with even more emotion than usual.

Of course we got through it – well, sort-of – however how I wish SKYPE was available back then, because since it came on the scene, it has had a prolific effect on how I have coped with living away from home.

It’s not just the fact it’s free – though that is obviously fantastic – it’s the fact that it has given me the chance to maintain a deeper, closer relationship with the people I love.

Suddenly I can see their eyes, their frowns, their curled up lips and blinking … it’s amazing … and whilst it’ll never be a substitute for real, live, physical interaction … the difference it has made to me and – for example – my Mum, is enormous.

When your children live away from home it’s hard.

It doesn’t matter how sensible or good they are, there’s always this niggling doubt they’re living under some cardboard boxes next to a freeway.

Skype changes that.

Even though my Mum hasn’t visited us in China yet [May 11th, that all changes!] the fact is she’s seen our apartment, seen the view from our windows and seen her room … it has given her a peace of mind that a phonecall could never achieve and that is priceless.

So many telcos create ads that talk about people sharing moments … but if they did their homework, they’d know it’s much more than just sharing good times, it’s about – as I wrote here [warning, it’s the post about my best friends penis] – making sure you’re not left behind.

So to Skype, I salute you … for all the brands out there that talk about bringing families closer – from telcos to pasta sauces – you do it better than most and you don’t get anywhere near the acclaim you deserve.

45 Comments so far
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Mrs C. I salute your tolerance and selflessness in listening to Campbell every day.

Next time you talk can you tell him that it’s not a brand that connects these families, it’s a technology. If you don’t use Skype you can use one of many IM video chat systems and, since they’re all free, they have no meaningful differentiation.

Comment by voice of reason

That’s like saying all stolen handbags are the same because they don’t cost me a dime to get. Let me tell you when you open them up they’re very different inside.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Revealing metaphor Billy. But unless you can show me that Skype and the alternatives are different inside, I think I’d tend to side with the mysterious voice of reason on this ne.

Comment by John

V.O.R. is definitely Mr Dodds – you can’t hide that unique tone regardless what you call yourself.

I disagree with you John.

On a rational level, of course it’s the tech that does all the hard work and that tech is available from a variety of different sources … however on an emotional level, differentiation can – and does – happen each and every day because the people who use it have a relationship that is shaped by how they use it, when they use it, when they first discovered it and who they use it with … which means they don’t view it as something technology enabled, they view it as as a brand that helps make great moments happen.

It’s a view that has worked for decades selling everything from soda drinks to VOIP apps and to only view differentiation in terms of technical specs is wrong … and quite frankly, I’m surprised you did given you are one of the smartest people I know. [See what I did there?]

Comment by Rob

Or you could read Pete’s comment below that I’ve just seen and that says what I’m trying to say better and more succinctly than I could manage. As usual.

Comment by Rob

i choose to slit my fucking wrists because dodds is talking rational brand manager crap and you and pete are boring the fucking shit out of me.

Comment by andy@cynic

In that case you shouldn’t come here tomorrow because you’re going to really, really, really hate it.

Comment by Rob

suddenly life looks a fucking little bleaker now.

Comment by andy@cynic

Not meaning to sound like rational brand manager at all. Just saying that if Skype is under-rated, it’s because it hasn’t differentiated itself from all the other options – be that emotionally or experientially/technically.

Comment by John

The funny – and hypocritical – thing is, when I wrote this post, I didn’t mean SKYPE was underrated as a brand, I meant the service it offered was underrated.

Like flying or being able to have medicine that saves our lives in a simple pill.

The truth is, I could have applied my point to any service that offers free VOIP with minimal technical requirements because when I said ‘underrated’, what I meant this post to focus on was how it let me feel closer to my loved ones rather than ‘brand SKYPE’ being better than the others.

[Even though I think it is for the reasons I’ve bored you with in other comments]

Does this mean we’ve had a debate and do you think we can walk away and pretend it never happened so as to not sully the reputation of this blog?

Comment by Rob

so youre arguing about different fucking things and yet somehow still managed to bore the fucking crap out of everyone? thats quite a skill you 2 tarts have got. dont bring it out again.

Comment by andy@cynic

Given how many people refer to online video calling as Skyping, I would think the branding isn’t too bad. Plus Skype has the same pull as Facebook, you know it’s likely to be the first vid conf place where people are.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

anything that means i can see your fucking mug when i am forced to talk to you is a bad thing which is why i think eyes are fucking overrated and just there to cause trouble.

and voice of reason, who has to be dodds with that pedantic and fucking condescending tone, youre right but skype fucking did it first so even if the tech is available on a bunch of other fucking platforms (look at me sounding like i know what the fuck im talking about) campbell likes them best because campbell is a sentimental bastard unlike you who walks around fucking destroying dreams like youre a local simon fucking cowell.

Comment by andy@cynic

Ha! Let me show voice of reason how to be properly pedantic and condescending – Skype were the first peer to peer VOIP, but not the first VOIP. And Im pretty sure the various portal IMs predated them.

Comment by John

Nice attempt to cover your true identity John, but a word of advice … don’t join MI5, you’ll never fool the foreign spies.

Comment by Rob

youre single arent you doddsy? cant for the fucking life of me figure out why.

Comment by andy@cynic

Whose dreams have I destroyed?

Comment by John

your own.

Comment by andy@cynic

good point about parents niggling doubts campbell, very fucking true. what a shame you fuck up your one moment of insight glory by trying to prove your point by linking it to a post where you write lovingly about your best friends donkey cock.

Comment by andy@cynic

Would it be pedantic to suggest that encouraging the children to mitigate their parents’ possessiveness by using Skype etc might be a richer creative vein?

Comment by John

What do you mean ‘a richer creative vein’? As in advertising or positioning? That sounds more like an execution to me than a long-term, business focused strategy – but what do I know, I still think a brand can be differentiated by emotional value, not just technical.

Comment by Rob

creative vein? is that what youre calling it now doddsy? fucking pervert.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes, I have sort-of realised that now. Oops.

Comment by Rob

Dodd’s pedentry makes me want to open my veins creative or not

Comment by northern

I thought I’d finally managed to get the taste of Rob’s mates big cock out my mouth and then he shoves it down my throat again with the link on todays post. Yummy yummy.

Comment by George Michael

As you get to try lots of free penises at various parks, maybe you could settle an argument for me Mr Wham.

Despite them all being free to use, is there a particular park that means more to you than all the others and if so, why?

Thank you.

Comment by Rob

the park at the bottom of your road im guessing campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

I like this post, I like how you talk about what communication between people can really mean and how even superficial conversations can play an important role in making sure the glue between people stays strong.

Your point about parents worrying when their children move away is also good. Sometimes their concerns would have merit, (Mrs C?) but every parent ends up with feelings of concern about how their precious child is doing until they’ve seen it for themselves.

Skype may be relatively generic these days, but it was the first mass market, no charge VOIP brand that many people interacted with and that memory can’t be underestimated in economic or brand terms.

Even today, with a wealth of choice available, Skype is dominant because it has flexibility of use when many of their competitors place technological restrictions on how it can be used (Facetime) or they’re just an added feature in a product or service that has a different role in its audiences mind. (MSN)

Brands differentiation can work on many levels of which technical specs is just one possibility.

Comment by Pete

Yes, well I wish I’d read your comment before responding to Dodds with an overlong, overcomplicated rant above.

Comment by Rob

i fucking dont. depressed the fucking shit out of me.

Comment by andy@cynic

Final comment.

While SKYPE’s tech is not very differentiated, what I will say is that the developments they make [which get copied by their competitors in the blink of an eye] are always focused on making the user experience better, more valuable, more meaningful … as opposed to simply adding more stuff for the sake of it.

This is what Apple used to be like … until they decided to go down the ‘any news is good news’ path which has resulted in them making products where they say the reason to buy is “it’s more fun” or has “more colours”.

This change happened around the same time Baz joined them I think. Hmmmn. On the bright side, their new iPad 2 cover is a sign that all is not lost. Yes, I’m talking about their cheap [though for what it is, it’s actually quite expensive], fabric mesh cover that attaches to the product using magnets and can be folded into an iPad stand.

Sure, it might seem pretty insignificant, but to me, it’s a major thing and shows the brand that led in people focused innovation still has it deep within it’s bowels, so to speak.

Enough already, I have a meeting to blag my way through.

Comment by Rob

youve got your fucking freebies campbell, so you can stop being a creepy shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

Pete makes a good point about Skype not being an embedded feature and therefore potentially appealing to a different user group. Would be interesting to know if people do see it as their digital phone or just one of them.

While I take his memory/legacy point, I have a nagging doubt that this is less potent in digital products and services than it was in the real world because switching costs are lower.

I recall various social networks and search engines I used in the early 2000s but they are nothing but memories now. I wouldn’t go back.

I’ll stop now as I’m depressing myself as much as I am Andy.

Comment by John

enough doddsy enough. its fucked up youre taking this fucking post seriously without the added mindfuck of you complimenting pete too.

if this is how this blog is going to be im going to fucking grout some fucking tiles. or get a shotgun and shoot people.

Comment by andy@cynic

preface: skype is rad. end of story.

but please don’t encourage the ‘parents worrying about their kids’ schmaltz. there is soooo much fucking ‘creative positioning’ about parents and kids that it drives me banananananas. just because parent-child relationship is a strong and powerful and most-irrational one, doesn’t make it an ethical quartz to continue mining.

when i read about you living on corrimal street, i couldn’t help but laugh. the idea of you living in wollongong is absurd. although i bet you lived in one of those rad houses that overlooked the bloody ocean. you poor bugger.

Comment by lauren

I wasn’t saying SKYPE should position themselves in that way, I was just pointing out that parents generally worry when their kid moves away and will only accept they’re not turning tricks for rent until they see it with their own eyes which is one of the things SKYPE allows to happen without the effort.

As for Corrimal Street …

Well I did live one street back from the beach but not in a rad house, but a shitty, filthy apartment owned by an ex-monk turned psychiatric nurse nutcase who on my first day in the place, locked me in “for my own good”.

On the brightside, it improved my view on Nottingham and my friends. Ha.

Comment by Rob

sorry – my mistake. john started it, i attributed it to you.
and further to corrimal st – no wonder you were shocked an appalled that i lived there, when i first ‘met’ you. wollongong is so small i probably knew the nutcase. oh, what a wasteland that place is 🙂

Comment by lauren

He also paid for part of his Nissan Pulsar S (never forget the ‘S’) by bartering a shitload of his possessions to the dealership. The fact they accepted it tells you all you need to know about the place and why the experience sticks to me like a nylon shirt on a hot day.

Comment by Rob

why the fuck were you there?!

Comment by lauren

The usual reason men do stupid things (besides alcohol) … a woman. What’s even worse than the fact she worked in Wollongong is that she came from Griffith. It was doomed before it began … but on the brightside, had I not followed her, I’d of not met Jill – though whether she shares the same opinion is debatable.

Comment by Rob

turns out it’s the only reason people move to wollongong. i moved there ‘cos i fell in love with a bloke from there. d’oh!

Comment by lauren

dropkick danielle. what a piece of fucking work she was. looked great but served up great big fucking portions of shit and drama. first time i thought about feeling fucking sorry for you.

Comment by andy@cynic

Re Mr Mortimer’s point on Skyping being the vernacular for all VOIP, does anyone know if the fact that people refer to Hoovers when they mean vacuum cleaners translates into more sales for Hoover as the received wisdom suggests?

Comment by John

I don’t think so John, if only for the fact that when people say they love football, they don’t always buy a Nottingham Forest season ticket.

Comment by Rob

If they love being a football they do.

Comment by John

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