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Friday, August 29, 2008

Michael Bartlett: What Skype means to me

On the occasion of Skype's fifth birthday, Skype Journal will publish a series on "What Skype Means To Me." You are invited to email your essay or short thoughts to

Mike Bartlett is Skype's Director of Windows Product Management, working from London.

Having worked at Skype for over 3 years, sometimes you forget the human power of communication. I had a powerful reminder of it a few months ago.

My girlfriend's father moved to Australia last year and she had not seen him since. I gave her a webcam and told her all about video calling. She was sceptical. She thought it would be weird. Well… she was, quite literally, in tears after her first call with him. Her two sisters down in Cornwall (which is on the south coast of England) actually got a broadband subscription just to make video calls after hearing about it.

So I was sitting in their lounge, it was quite late at night (those pesky time zones) and there were the three daughters kneeling on the floor huddled, around the laptop in their dressing gowns having a video conversation with their father and their two half-sisters who were getting ready to go to school in Australia. If you could see the smiles on their faces and hear the laughter, the giggling and the excitement then you'd know how amazing I felt sitting on the sofa watching this, knowing that I've played a part in bringing these emotions to millions of people around the World every day.

I can picture that scene clear as day, and that is what Skype means to me.

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At September 1, 2008 at 5:27 AM , Anonymous J.A. Watson said...

Mr. Bartlett: What a cute picture, a family having fun, feeling good, because they are able to communicate. Now try another mental picture. The husband in Africa, and wife in Spain, both desperate to talk with each other, and both in tears because they can't get Skype to work, and they can't get a response from Skype "Customer Support". Or try this one: the student in Asia, and the family in Europe, desperate to communicate, and all distraught because Skype Accounting has decided to block their account, there is no number to call for help, there is no email for help, and there is no response for days on end to queries sent through the Skype "Support" page.


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