Phil Wolff’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Aug 10th, 2016 @ 8:17pm

    Like blaming a phone company for what callers say?

    I find the whole blame-the-tubes business confusing.

  • Jun 19th, 2012 @ 12:13pm

    Skype is now ad-supported, not freemium

    I've heard someone call Skype ad recipients freeloaders, justifying the adverts. I don't think "free-loader" applies to Skype users that don't hand Skype money.

    Skype's value proposition comes from the number of people connected to its network, the number of customers with dialtone. Without all those indirectly monetized customers, Skype wouldn't be growing, would be only a fraction of its size (ten million active users instead of a quarter billion?) and be no threat or much value to anyone.

    Aside from how in-call ads butcher user experience and Skype's brand, this looks like a patient management decision.

    Imagine the conversation. Skype's integration team is meeting one week with the Microsoft advertising folks, looking for surfaces where ads can flow. Check; lots of visits, a top site worldwide. We can sell it like we do MSN.

    Premium listings in Skype's directory search results? Skype did that in the past and we can try it again; let's add that to the development queue and see if we can pair that with Bing local search.

    How about the Skype home tab seen when you start the client? Check; but very few people see this and click throughs are sub-par.

    Can we place ads in the main window, where the screen real estate is precious and is on display all day? No; test users showed massive resistance and it interfered with basic use of the app. Yes, we know Windows Live Messenger (right, not Live anymore) has ads; why do you think we Messenger is a second-tier IM client?

    How about ads in the calls themselves? Can we have intro announcements before the call connects? This delays the gratification between hitting the 'call' button and talking with someone; we have high abandonment.

    OK, how about if we just show a display ad during a call? They can't close the window; they are stuck in a call, looking at the ad. And forget banner blindness; it's right next to the faces of the people they are calling, so we can almost guarantee the ad gets seen. If they don't like it they can click on a tiny 'close this ad' space; some will miss and we'll get a click; others will close it and we'll have even more proof they saw the ad. Right!

    And if that doesn't work we can sell branded ringtones so this month millions of Skype clients ring to the KFC jingle.

    Meanwhile, in another room...

    Look, we all know the real money isn't in in-client advertising. But Skype for Azure won't be ready as a platform until next summer. Same with our Bing click-to-call service, our enterprise UC console, our Hangouts killer, and our talk-along-with-Netflix app. So let them have their monstrous ads; we'll measure the hell out of it and come back with hard data later this year. Meanwhile, smile, be supportive and make this whole we're-friends-with-the-suits thing work.

  • Nov 13th, 2010 @ 3:33pm

    Does P2P include Skype? Dropbox?

    Skype and dropbox permit file sharing. I wonder if they are forbidden too.

  • Nov 13th, 2010 @ 3:25pm

    Values and Power

    Some cultures respond to strong authority figures with respect and prioritize compliance and adherence as a social good. Others respond with caution and place higher priorities on freedom and independence. In-house counsel and security professionals tend to favor the first approach in their role as institutional risk minimizers. These professional views are reinforced where the general culture also puts "respect for authority" near the top of their values. Generalizing, such values prevail in US "Red States" and rural/agricultural counties.

    Bush's Great Recession has put great strain on the power of faculty and students everywhere to fight for academic independence and on-campus civil liberties. Their financially battered state college administrations are too worried about keeping schools open and figuring out how to raise fees and cut costs. They have no attention left for why exposure to expensive lawsuits and penalties could be morally correct and politically positive.

  • Nov 13th, 2010 @ 3:08pm

    "Attend Valdosta, Go To Jail"

    Has a ring to it, no? Go, Valdosta Jailbirds!

  • Dec 7th, 2009 @ 5:12pm

    Re: Its vs. It's

    Sigh +1.