The decline of Skype

About 20 years ago, Skype was the backbone of my telecoms. I used it to stay in touch with a worldwide collection of editors when I was running Tom’s Hardware and to make all of my international calls for pennies per minute. Some of you are old enough to remember when these calls cost dearly, if they could be made at all.

When you think about this broad stretch of time, and that you can now reach people on the other side of the world, with usually solid audio (and in some cases video) quality, it is pretty amazing. And it is nice to have lots of choices for your comms too.

If you want some perspective on how much this tech has changed since 2006, check out this piece that I wrote for the NY Times about the business instant messaging use. Remember Lotus Sametime? Jabber? AOL? Yahoo?

I wrote about this most recently in 2020 here, where I staked out the entire messaging interoperability problem, and when Teams was just muscling into this market.

This week I gave up my subscription and last remaining Skype credits of some $3. I haven’t used the thing in months, and it was time to say goodbye. Since being absorbed by the Redmond Borg, it has gotten less usable and useful. I almost always get stuck trying to figure out how to authenticate myself into among my numerous accounts.

My choices for international communications is now plentiful. If I have to actually talk to someone, the most used is WhatsApp, which works reasonably well and is almost universal among people that I connect with. In second place is texting, either using SMS/iMessage or sometimes with Facebook Messenger. If I were younger I would probably put texting in first place. I use Microsoft Teams or Slack to communicate with my business colleagues, depending on which platform they are using. Sometimes I use Google Talk to make a few calls from my computer. My mother-in-law has an Alexa show, which makes for yet another channel to use.

Juggling all this tech can be tiresome to be sure. But it meant that Skype was gradually marginalized as time went on.

2 thoughts on “The decline of Skype

  1. I mostly agree, but I do keep Skype around just for the occasional call I need to make to Costa Rica from the states, since my Office365 account gives me 60 free minutes worldwide every month.

    Other than that it’s almost all WhatsApp for me.

  2. Honestly, I still miss Banyan VINES and StreetTalk. Whether I was in Europe, or in the US, VINES gave me pinpoint access to print and file services, directories, and people I needed to reach instantly. The mashup we live with now is damn embarrassing. I work with a company that uses Teams for file, sharing, chat, and calls. The number of times I can find anything or anyone or any file reliably is about 2%. That’s a big slide backwards in my book.

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