Having just seen Jonathan Christensen of Skype at the recent Open Mobile Summit on a panel with Om Malik and a few others last week, I felt it was timely to bring up Skype's participation at eComm in March.
Lee Dryburgh posted a note announcing the news earlier in the week and I wanted to reflect on what this means:
1. This is a great move by Skype to get behind eComm. Their Developer Relations program has been in a state of flux since the departure of Paul Amery last year, but is really gearing up to take on a new life and eComm is at the epicenter of what's emerging from the developer world.
2. Skype is looking to hire a Developer Community Manager. They should look no further than Dan York, currently at Voxeo or Stuart Henshall. Both know the community inside and out and are very visible. Neither would be controversial, and both have the technical chops to be able to hold their own with the developers. By being at eComm, and announcing their intentions early, Skype sends a clear message to the community, and provides a launchpad to introduce their new Developer face the right way.
3. Skype has become the defacto standard for IM and Voice on the Net. Their service works pure and simple. It's on more devices and even without a true mobile play, they have proven that they can build and sustain their community. Being at eComm will put them in the forefront with the new kids on the block, well before big telco catches on.
4. Skype will be able to widen their lead at the VoIP client of choice by getting more new bells and whistles from early stage developers. Ever since former Yahoo VP Brad Garlinghouse lost the internal battles inside Yahoo to go after Skype (despite a big build-up, the hiring of Jeff Bonforte from Gizmo Project, etc.) Yahoo IM, the only real threat to Skype along with Gizmo that ever was, the game became clear. Yahoo IM on Windows as a voice platform rocked. It still works perfectly and now with the Jajah network underneath its as good as any phone service in and out. But beyond Yahoo's now anemic efforts, and the steady, all SIP oriented Gizmo, Skype has no real competition. But it was a stacked deck at the Y!, because Garlinghouse and his team likely also had to fight against an enemy within. The faction within Yahoo that was responsible for the on-ramp DSL relationships with the USA iLec's, Verizon and AT&T, which use Yahoo as their content partner. Clearly it was never in anyone's best interest to take minutes away from the hands that were feeding Yahoo so many users.
5. Skype will reinforce what they're doing not only on laptops and desktops, but with mobile. I fully expect that some of the newer advanced handsets on the more developer friendly platforms will by then have Skype clients of some sort. eComm thus becomes the nexus for Skype to show off what they've done while building for what's next. Because Skype has no partners who have a competitive PSTN play, they can go for broke in being the alternative choice when it comes to how people communicate over the Internet.
With less than four months to go, eComm is shaping up as THE conference to be at.
(A note of disclosure: My agency, Comunicano handles the communications relations for eComm)