Skype Challenge – A Year On

Some you might recall that I issued a Skype Challenge last April where the rules were essentially:

  • To go an entire month without using either a landline* or a mobile phone** to make or receive phone calls. 
  • You have to make all calls via Skype
  • You can’t accept calls, unless they come via Skype
  • You can’t send/receive SMS, unless they go through Skype

A year on and some things have changed but unfortunately other things remain an issue:

  • Battery Life – This continues to haunt mobile device users.  Currently my HTC Touch Dual lasts a little over a day and it doesn’t even have WiFi
  • Audio Quality – Until Skype taps into the phone speaker instead of the external speaker this will remain an issue
  • Unable to Receive SMS – Still not possible
  • Audio Quality – Over WiFi audio quality is very variable.  However, if you are running on one of the 3G networks then the quality is quite acceptable for the most part.  You do need to have good reception and strong signal strength for this to be tolerable
  • Unavailability – Particularly with WiFi this continues to be an issue – I doubt we will get good wide area WiFi coverage like some of the US cities.  However, perhaps WiMax will be rolled out.  Alternatively the latest thing is for homes and offices to have their own mobile cell – perhaps this will be the future of improved coverage.
  • Unable to Send SMS – AFAIK still not available on the mobile version of Skype
  • Contacts Unavailable – When will we have a universal contacts list – I’m sick of running Outlook, Live Messenger, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn – all with different collections of people.  If I want to get hold of someone I want to say “call bob” and for my single list to respond “on his home, work or mobile, Sir?”

As you can probably tell I failed the challenge and to be honest have grown to like the convenience of using my mobile phone for everything when I’m out and about.  Towards the end of last year I went through more phones than hot dinners (mainly cause I just moved to Sydney and hadn’t learnt to cook yet – only kidding!) trying to find the ideal form-factor v’s feature set.  Both the TyTnII and the Touch Dual came very close but there is still a middle ground where I think the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 may fall.

Since moving to Sydney I have again gone without a home phone line, opting for an IInet Naked DSL account – you still have a copper wire to the door, just no phone connection and the line rental is buried in the monthly broadband cost (but is significantly less than a full line rental).  I still use Skype for making calls and sending SMS messages.

Interestingly what we have seen from a couple of mobile phone carriers are offerings around using skype over their data connection.  For example on the 3 network you can get so many hours of free skype talk-time on some of their data plans (ie not included in your data limit) – I’d be interested to hear how many consumers actually use this!

In conclusion – I think this is the year where data will become affordable.  Once we have cheap data, the rest will fall into place.  Then we can really talk about taking on the Skype Challenge.

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