Skype (News - Alert) can be a wonderful tool. The VoIP service has successfully connected individuals, groups, businesses and even governments, and allowed all manner of events to be successfully established and carried on. But there are some who look at Skype on mobile and wonder if, maybe, Skype's impressive performance as a desktop tool just hasn't translated so well to the mobile field. An examination of the issues surrounding Skype on mobile suggests, meanwhile, there's some hope for Skype on mobile, but new developments will be necessary to help the conferencing tool stay in touch with its market.
Reports suggest that the new Skype for mobile, at least in terms of the iOS version, will bring some badly needed new focus, this time putting most of the attention on messaging over anything else. The messaging functions aren't the only improvement, as reports suggest a new kind of interface helps “reduce(s) clutter,” which makes everything simpler to work with. A set of unnamed, but “much needed improvements” were also reportedly brought in, thus making things a lot better for mobile users who turn to Skype.
The key issue here is that many of these mobile users have an increasingly large number of sources to turn to for mobile conferencing needs, particularly things like Google (News - Alert) Hangouts. Google Hangouts, while not necessarily getting a lot of attention at the desktop level, has done some great things in mobile by some reports, getting a lot of interest thanks to stability in both video and voice chat over the course of the last few years. What's more, since Google Hangouts can offer free calls to landlines as well as multi-party features like chat and screen sharing, it puts Skype on something of a bad footing in the mobile department.
But Skype's Eric Levine, product manager, doesn't seem to be terribly concerned. Levine suggests that users already have multiple messaging apps, each with a particular block of contacts, so Skype can function as a particular set of contacts, while other apps work alongside Skype to keep people in touch with other contacts. Others, meanwhile, suggest that Skype's inherent failings are going to leave it unable to compete in the long run without some substantial modification. Given the sheer number of competitors in the field, it's not out of line to suggest that Skype has missed the boat, so to speak, on the mobile market.
I actually use Skype myself, albeit on the desktop version. It allows me to get in touch with old friends who have moved away, and we routinely get together for a game night using the chat service. But there are other options, certainly; even Skype for desktop isn't without failings, and when we've looked to other apps to provide that connectivity, we've found no shortage of possibilities. Everything from Tokbox systems to Viber has jumped out at us, and that's really driven home how competitive this market is. If Skype wants to stay a viable part of the ecosystem, it's got to bump up its product quality lest it be left behind in the larger market for good.
Only time will tell if Skype can hold its own in a mobile market with a lot of competitors, but it's a pretty safe bet to not count the company out. It has plenty going for it, and all it needs to do is bring that potential to bear to ensure its position in the field.
Edited by Alisen Downey