// Posted by Celia on 02/11/2013 (11:28 AM)
“When you become a verb, you know you’ve made it.” -Doug Amoath, Time Tech
Today we have options far beyond just a cell phone. Even years ago, Skype offered a cheaper alternative to a landline. How did they do it? Like Kazaa and Napster, Skype is founded on a peer-to-peer network. The more people that use it, the better the connection, which was particularly useful in sparsely populated areas. Then, people in cities wanted to be connected also and the network grew. Ebay bought Skype for $2.6 billion, which seemed like an astronomic number at the time (2006). In 2011, Microsoft then purchased Skype for $8.5 billion. Experts speculated about the sanity of Microsoft; whether the investment would prove to be monumental and profitable…or a colossal waste of money. Skype is referred to as a “disruptive” technology; whereby people are able to call across the world for free, instead of signing up for an expensive cell phone plan. Microsoft is now integrating Skype into many of its products, proving that the purchase was a smart one. From Xbox 360 to Outlook, all users will be able to take advantage of Skype capabilities. Microsoft owns a large share of Facebook also, meaning that you can expect to see Skype starting to penetrate the social network realm even further.
As a dedicated user of Skype, I have only ever spent $10 on the entire product. That has lasted me through numerous international phone calls and saved me significant amounts of money from using a landline. What are the implications of Skype expanding more into other arenas? Even now from my cell phone I can Skype my friend in Africa on WiFi for free. The possibilities seem endless, and as a consumer I feel like I’ve definitely gotten the most out of the application. Now we’re seeing the rise of WhatsApp and Viber, applications that let you call and text literally for free (well, WhatsApp is $.99). Even so, both these applications have really outdone themselves. The only trick to the app is that your friend on the receiving end needs to have it also. Seems easy enough right? I wonder what the long term effects on cell phone companies and plans will be, since as things become free, less people are willing to pay for services.