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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Michael Robertson says Skype should open to Gizmo Project

Michael Robertson tells Andy Abramson his Gizmo Project peers with hundreds of other networks, so Skype should open up too. Robertson contrasts Skype's closed network to Skype's Carterfone petition to the FCC, a plea for mobile phone companies to let customers use phones of their choice. Skype wrote a letter last week

It's a false comparison. How we connect a phone to a mobile network is standardized. How we connect a client to the Skype network is not. How we connect the Skype network to another service is not. 

A few interoperability questions for Michael:

  1. Will you peer IM, video, file transfer, presence, commerce, desktop sharing, conferencing, texting, microblogging, and data channels? Crossing all conversational modes? Exactly whose codecs and protocols should everyone use? Should Skype users downgrade the quality of their voice and video calls to match Gizmo's?
  2. Will you require realtime encryption? Strong enough to prevent live intercepts? Will you require all networks to notify users when their conversations are no longer encrypted?
  3. Will you agree to strong user authentication? So users can have confidence in the identity of friends and strangers?
  4. Will you (and everyone you peer with) agree on user profile data structures, white page directory services, and directory search interop?
  5. Will you support data portability principles? So users can switch to and from you network with their identities, profiles, buddy lists, histories, and preferences? 
  6. Will you peer customer support costs and security? How should customers escalate security and technical issues across multiple networks?
  7. Will you mandate end-to-end transparency of call quality information?
  8. What namespaces would you suggest Skype use? Will you support OpenID or some other namespace? 
  9. Will you open Gizmo up to all partners? Your contact page says "Unfortunately, we are not setup to partner at this time with organizations with fewer than one million users."
  10. How will you make all this work? What industry body or standards process could help Skype and other companies find the sweet spots of commoditized conversation?

You like thinking of yourself as a David against Goliaths (I'm thinking back to SIPphone vs. Vonage), and you cast Skype as one of the giants. It's fine to take a swing at Skype.

I hope you are up for more than talk, Michael.

What will you do to advance Talk 2.0 interop? Will you dig deeper? Reach out? What are the next steps, Mr. Robertson? 

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4 Comments:

At September 18, 2008 at 4:21 PM , Anonymous aaytch said...

I have to feel that the reason Robertson lost his temper had nothing to do with interoperability. He is not stupid. I suspect Gizmo is coming to an end and Robertson is just expressing frustration at not being able to compete. We'll know the specifics shortly.

 
At September 18, 2008 at 8:59 PM , Anonymous Rob:-] said...

Well this is good news. Sounds like you agree with Mr. Robertson in principal so all you need to do is work out the technical details in your list. Good for you. Good for Mr. Robertson. Good for all the customers.

 
At September 18, 2008 at 11:56 PM , Anonymous J.A. Watson said...

Skype, their Cheerleading Squad and their cronies may indeed wish, or dream, that Gizmo is "coming to an end", but there are no facts to support that. But it is easy to understand why they would wish Gizmo (and Mr. Robertson) would go away and stop asking such embarrassing questions in public. It is obvious that the emperor is wearing no clothes...

 
At September 20, 2008 at 10:16 PM , Anonymous David Beckemeyer said...

Interesting list. But here's the thing you fail to mention. Maybe Gizmo doesn't interop at all those levels, but at least they started somewhere - interop of basic voice calls over IP, which is something Skype still has not done. At least I can pass a voice call to Gizmo over IP (I don't even need a "peering agreement" to do so) and Gizmo can call me over IP using published protocols. So, while they don't do all the things on your list, they do one important one, voice calls, and Skype won't even do that - and don't pretend like I'm the only person on earth asking for this, as has been Skype's argument (and parroted by Skype apologists).

 

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