Losing Skype, Android One & more…

Losing Skype? What next?

Losing Skype, Android One & more…

A few days back, someone emailed to ask if Skype was planning to stop operations in India. News emerging at the time of writing noted that this was indeed true, and Skype is to bar calls on mobiles and landlines within India from November 10.

Reporting from Bangalore, John Ribeiro said in pcworld.com: “Microsoft has decided to stop routing Skype Internet calls from within India to local landlines and mobile phones, in a move that may signal it is giving in to local regulations.  The company said in a post on its support page that as of November 10, ‘if you are in India, calling from Skype to mobiles and landlines within India will unfortunately no longer be available.'”

Some suggestions say that barring VoIP (voice over internet protocol) was a way for Indian regulators “to protect the investments of telecommunication operators”. Also, while this would affect Skype-to-landlines and to-mobiles calls, Skype-to-Skype calls will continue.

So, should the law be used to block the progress of technology? Should phone subscribers – what with their rapid growing base specially in mobile usage – be simply seen as a source for private and government revenues (the latter via licenses)? What about simply enabling people to communicate so that their productive powers can grow?

Skype has an interesting history, and first came about in 2003. It was created by the Dane Janus Friis and Swede Niklas Zennström in cooperation with Estonians Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn. In 2005, eBay bought it for $2.6 billion. By 2009, other big investors entered. Skype was later acquired by Microsoft in May 2011 for $8.5 billion. Microsoft’s Skype division headquarters are in Luxembourg, but most of the development team and 44% of the overall employees of the division are still situated in Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia.

Search online and you’ll find a lot of alternatives to Skype. These include eBuddy, WhatsApp, the Cyprus-based Viber, Tango (with over 100 million users worldwide), the quaintly-named Telegram Messenger (sometimes called the new and improved version of WhatsApp), LINE, WeChat, even Facebook Chat, Google Talk and Google Hangouts, VoipBuster, BBM (BlackBerry Messenger), iMessage (Apple), Kik Messenger, ChatON from Samsung, the living fossil of ICQ, and ooVoo.

One difference between WhatsApp and Facebook Chat is that anyone with a cellphone and WhatsApp can send messages to you, while Facebook is only for people who have accepted you as a Facebook friend.

All eyes on Google’s Android One

Losing Skype, Android One & more…

Techinasia.com calls it “a game-chamber in budget smartphones”. As you would have heard, partnering with local phone-makers Micromax, Karbonn, and Spice, Google unveiled the Spice Android One Dream UNO Mi-498, Karbonn Sparkle V Red, and Micromax Canvas A1. The prices start from as little as Rs 6,399.

Interestingly enough, India is the first country to get Android One phones. And not without reason; this is a large but often price-sensitive market. Technology needs to be affordable if it is to be bought.

Also not surprisingly, these phones are to go to Indonesia, the Philippines and other “emerging Asian markets” soon.

According to Techinasia.com, what’s happening here is that these products are going to redefine value for money, will bring in a no-frills Android operating system without clutter and “crapware”, makes sense by going in for partnership with local players, offers global software on local hardware, and is a global product first launched in India.

Will all this add up to a useful product that gets well patronised? Time will tell. Watch this space.

Big Billion Day?

So what was your experience buying on Flipkart on their Big Billion Day? The site has claimed that it had actually registered a billion hits, and touch $100 million in gross merchandising value in ten hours flat.

Firstpost, the online news and comment site, carried a headline which read: #Failkart to Rs 600 cr sales: How Flipkart’s Big Billion Day developed.

It pointed to those queuing up to buy, would find it difficult to get logged on to the site. Firstpost also had a disclaimer which read: “Homeshop18, a competitor of Flipkart, is owned by Network18, which publishes Firstbiz.”

Such figures may be great for online valuations. They also attract more buyers. But what does it do for the bottom line of online vendors (including gadget vendors), and for buyers too? Your thoughts please…

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