02 Apr Updated: Skype's CTO, Dan Berg "Live" on how Skype is out to change the world
Blogger’s Note: This is exclusive “real-time coverage of Berg’s presentation and follow up Q/A discussion that followed the announcements and release earlier in the day of Skype – iPhone application. Written by Mike Klein, editorial director, WTN News. See updated news reporting at WTN News and real-time posts at http:mikeklein.wtnmeda.com, Mike Klein’s Global Fusion Blog.
Madison – Dan Berg, a self-proclaimed geek since childhood, is chief technology officer of Skype, an Internet phone service owned by eBay Inc. Berg returned to his home town area last night as he was raised and schooled in Oregon, Wisconsin. He took the opportunity to talk tonight at an Accelerate Madison monthly gathering.
Daniel Berg’s primary responsibility is to drive innovation and ensure Skype continues to develop great software. His mandate covers Skype’s full range of products, He is developing and maintaining a global team of more than 300 staff. Dan joined Skype after 15 years at Sun Microsystems, most recently as CTO for their Global Sales and Services Division and Vice President of Systems Engineering for Sun’s Emerging Markets Region. He joined Skpe in January 2009.
His presentation was on the value of the Network.’
He began his talk with a classic 20-year-old presentation that started with the mainframe and then talked about the change to client server computing. He discussed open standards and protocols and how open standards are playing a significant role in driving innovation. He also discussed that the cloud might contain some degree of hype. He did cite Salesforce.com as an exception.
“With the cloud there will be more than goes into it such as SaaS, PaaS, and infrastructure as a service.” Berg said. “Salesforce.com doing good things in SaaS and PaaS.
Berg showed a corporate video that stressed how is Skype enabling the world’s conversations.
Eventually, he discussed the just-released Skype application on iPhone and Android as well as competition from traditional Telco’s. Berg addressed the hometown crowd on the same day Skype confirmed rumors that it would roll out its anticipated iPhone app at the CITA Wireless show in Las Vegas. This enables users of the iPhone and iPod Touch to download Skype to make free calls to other Skype users over Wi-Fi rather than a cell network.
So what’s the bid deal about Skype? He said with Skype we have no servers and as users are added peer-to-peer technology expands the network. For chief information officers this can be a problem because they loose control, said Berg.
The first week of January they had 14 million concurrent users and this week now have 17 million concurrent users without adding servers.
So what’s the downside Berg asked? It’s hard to control outages and tech glitches.” There are good and bad uses on peer-to-peer computing,” said Berg.
Skype’s biggest issue is security,” said Berg. “Our security has not been broken with all the hackers doing bad things on the network. A good portion of R&D is how we work with firewalls.”
A few weeks back Skype introduced “Silk” an audio codec technology developed to increase audio quality. “One of the biggest complaints we get at Skype is `your quality sucks!’ “Berg added.
“Video has allowed us to get to the next step. The biggest problem we have is that it’s user device quality. We are now working on HD audio and video. In the next month or so Skype will introduce with another manufacturer a $15 headphone,” he said.
“Skype has 440 million registered users. We are adding 350,000 users a day. So since yesterday we have added almost a million users. We run about 20 billion calls a month and now passed ATT as biggest provider of international voice communications,” continued Berg.
So what is changing? “We are not tied to a dedicated hardware device. We are software,” explained Berg. Where do we see things going?” Communications is like water and should move around with you. The conversation should flow to where you are on any device.”
“From office to car, to home, to big screen TV, Skype adds value as a user has rich experience from chat to talk to video,” he said, noting that the technology does not limit the business model.”
“We do not expect existing Telco’s to re-invent communications. Over time they have become a walled garden, instead of being open. It is hard for them to open up. Skype is now going beyond ATT in terms of International calls. We are changing the worked in the process,” Berg said.
So what is the winning service? “It needs to be device and network agnostic,” added Berg.”
He closed talking about net neutrality and how that is not a good thing for users and Skype.
“Finding ways to monetize Skype has been difficult,” said Berg.
“One of the biggest problems we have is fraud. That’s why it took us so long to get the iPhone application out,” said Berg.
“We would like to have everyone to have access and with that we will change the world.”
When asked by the audience about how Skype compares to technology from Microsoft, Vonage and other competitors he responded with confidence, “Were better!”
“We are really working on video and trying to increase the experience for the user”
“We need to be friends with providers, who are also our foes” said Berg
Some counties like China are angry with Skype as they have hard time monitoring communications. We want to do the right thing to protect the user until laws change,” said Berg.
We are working on new version of Skype “To Go” application to improve quality, said Berg.
He closed talking about net neutrality and how that is not a good thing for users and Skype as an organization. This means that Skype strongly supports net neutrality and the attempts by ISPs’ to limit bandwidth and give priority to some content providers over others is beneficial for users.
As a journalist and web-based news media outlet we strongly endorse support this position. Mike Klein, Editorial Director, WTN News.