Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Conversation with Rick Osterloh, head of product design in Skype

With the occasion of the Mobile World Congress which ends today after three hectic days in Barcelona we were able to chat with some personalities who attended the event. Anup Murarka (director of marketing for Adobe Flash) and Jon von Tetzchner, Opera Software's founder and CEO of the company until last January. Finally, we bring you a conversation we had with Rick Osterloh, head of product design and Skype.

Rick made us aware of the status of the company right now, besides giving us some clues about the future of Skype, focusing especially on mobile platforms. In fact, Skype has focused all its attention and resources on those platforms, not forgetting to keep the current desktop versions of Mac OS X and Windows versions now that the application in both systems are the same level.

Let's put some figures on the table: With over 145 million uses per month, Skype has more than 30 million users in IOS, mostly in the iPhone. When asked if Android had the same success Rick has not been able to provide exact amounts, but has assured us that growth in the free Google mobile system has been spectacular:

Android is a key platform for our growth.

In addition, Rick placed great emphasis on the alliance that Skype has done recently with Qik, a video sharing service recorded on your mobile phone quickly with your friends that also lets you video. By joining the two Skype services are expected to grow at a rate even higher and avoid problems such as massive drop their servers which had to mediate recently.

More features you want to promote Skype: Skype Access. Rick commented that we have high stakes for this service, which simply allows us to use the credit you have on Skype to use some wifi hotspots around the world thanks to deals with several operators that have access points in areas such as airports.

With the new version of Skype, the company has made the move to convert video between several people (to 10) payment functionality. Did that bother the user? According to Rick, no. The reception has been good, because most people are just looking for simple video chats and businesses have seen good price to speak of several limitless.

Another question we asked the product manager of Skype was the competition, which has flourished spectacularly in recent months. Tango, Viber, the same Apple FaceTime ... Has that affected the use of Skype? It seems not:

Even with so much competition, we had a spectacular growth. As yet there are not enough service for all users, companies that compete with us no problem. Users get the same rate as us.

Moreover, it appears that the same companies like Apple and Google with competitors like Google Voice Facetime and have not put any obstacle to Skype is present in mobile platforms. Are "very happy" with the transparency and help both multinationals have offered.

More questions than we have done to Rick that we glimpse the future plans of Skype:

* Any plans to improve the integration of Facebook? Rick has told us that the integration that has the version of Skype for Windows with Facebook has been very well received, and plans to improve over the coming months.

* Now Skype has the same level versions of Windows and Mac OS X, but ... What about Linux? Unfortunately Skype does not have resources focused on that platform for now, although there are beta versions of the service for free operating system.

* Skype for Windows Phone 7? Skype has a good relationship with Nokia, and realizes that his alliance with Microsoft has been one of the most talked about news of the Mobile World Congress this year. As expected, plan to launch a version of Skype for mobile system from Microsoft, but its release date is unknown. For Rick, "Windows 7 just got much more interesting."

* Something that was said long ago and has not been echoed since then: What about that rumor of a transition to webapps? Rick has told us that we will know much more of this in the coming months, as well as improvements in their native apices. With web applications is expected to reach more users with new technologies and standards.

Overall and ending with the talk, Rick has made it clear that the intention of Skype is to continue growing apace even as before, using the major mobile platforms and partnerships with other services as a vehicle. Oh and not forgetting the TV: we will soon see the big screens of the room ready to use Skype on it with the help of a camcorder. Can you imagine calling someone from the street with the iPhone and see you comfortably from the couch? Of course, we thank Rick gave us time for our questions.

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