With all the hoopla around mobile VoIP applications, the mainstream media is beginning to ask the question: where is Skype? Good question actually, one we have been asking for sometime now. Business Week has picked up a report in a finnish newspaper, where (thankfully) Skype Chief Executive Officer Niklas Zennstrom was brutally honest in his answers about the problems his company is having.
“When we begun developing the mobile phone version we didn’t realize the number of technical obstacles. It is challenging and is taking much longer than expected,”
Let me breakdown these challenges:
1. Skype needs a lot of CPU cycles (see your computer’s process monitor) and mobile phone CPUs, even the best of them are not good enough. Skype is trying its best to bring down the CPU cycle requirements, but the performance-requirements are not have a Zen moment as yet.
2. Skype needs bandwidth – a lot of it, and running it a pure peer-to-peer client is just not possible on many of today’s networks. As 3G becomes prevalent, this issue just might get resolved.
3. Skype would suck the mobile phone batteries dry within hours because the client is always doing something. Not sure, how this issue gets resolved.
More than that, I think one think Niklas doesn’t admit to is that internal philosophies of Skype are coming in the way of their mobile efforts. Skype has always wanted to offload all the heavy lifting to the client, and basically stay clear of spending on the infrastructure. Right now, they can roll out a solution similar to say iSkoot (which essentially runs your Skype instance on a virtual machine on a server and acts like your desktop.)
Do you really want Mobile Skype?