What's all the hype with Skype?

Have you been following Stuart's blog lately. He's on quite the rant about Skype. Frankly, being locked in a cabin in the Wyoming wilderness at night and spinning tires and squirreling around the forest service and fire roads while crossing muddy waters on a motorcycle, I've been a bit out of it. In fact, no dial up and my infrequent trips to the big megalopolis of Jackson (ala Jackson Hole) were short and sweet and for the most part absent of any brushes with technology save a chance browse through a music store with an internet cafe.

But Skype?

I was particularly interested in Stuart's criticism of Skype's founders in building and recognizing the importance of the Skype brand. In short, Skype appears to be leveraging Peer-to-Peer networking (ala Kazaa or the old Napster) for telephony. Or more appropriately, Voice over IP (VoIP).

[…] there are already a number of branding problems. First we have (as too often with tech products) no consumer stories. The closest we get to smiling faces on the main screen are these two mug shots in the company section . Hey great they look like rock stars…. Well no. These photos in the company section are almost scary. They may want to change the world. However, that will require color and a smile. They must appear “pleasant” and “approachable”. Some simply manufactured warmth would help. Change these photos quick!. They may work on Hot or Not ; they aren't appropriate here. […]

Bravo Stuart. Success can go to one's head. As such, fundamental strategic and tactical common sensory (sic) goes out the window. We saw what happened to the intense accelerated growth with Friendster. And it appears Skype is the latest social network wildfire. But out of control it's just a fad. Reigned in and focused it could be a solid brand, build equity and offer founders and users intense value. This isn't revolutionary. But it's certainly evolutionary.

[…] It's about welcoming in tomorrow. We are in the age of P2P telephony. How people share in these riches will define the potency of the solution. […]

I'm curious if any of you have tried Skype and invite you to share your experience in the comments here or ping the trackback ID for this post and let's explore this together.

Gee. See what happens when you take a bit of time off. You know. Relief and relaxation away from technology and the allure of the computer, email and the internet? Out of nowhere comes Skype. And I'm already behind.

Geee. Next thing I'll learn is they haven't made it for OSX yet.