Wednesday, March 28, 2007

SkypeFind + SkypePrime = Skype is Desperate

from Internet Outsider by Henry Blodget In a move that says more about the revenue potential of its core business than any numbers reported to date, Skype announced the launch of two new products that have little to do with the core service and are already widely available elsewhere: local product reviews and a monetize-yourself expert network directory. This strategy, of course, mimics the one that resulted in eBay buying Skype in the first place ("Core business decelerating? Quick, acquire a fast-growing company in a completely unrelated business and then think of a way to explain it!"). Just because there is precedent for this strategy doesn't mean it's a good one. The local restaurant/product/etc review business is a tough nut to crack, and companies with far more resources than Skype's have found it slow going. Keen and other companies, meanwhile, have been at the telephone-expert opportunity for years, and they haven't hit the jackpot. If Skype didn't have another business to run, none of this would matter. But it does. And this Skype user, at least, can think of a hundred things that Skype could do to improve its basic service before it rushes off to compete with Google, Yahoo, Ingenio, and others in un-related businesses. (Such as? Such as this wicked-cool one-number-forever service offered by GrandCentral) So then why would Skype do this? Perhaps because, as its skeptics have long suggested, it is finding VOIP revenue hard to generate. The last batch of numbers made it look as though things were fine, but today's announcements suggest that they aren't.