By MortazaviBlog on Apr 19, 2006
We live in an age of "free" IT and communications services once one has paid the local company for the basic communications pipe. The real free service will come when cities install wireless for all their citizens to use free of charge. Given all the taxes locals pay, this should not be an unreasonable thing to expect from the urban authorities. Regulations and interests of local phone companies, of course, can dampen this trend. More significantly, urban bureaucracies are not known for providing high-quality services. Dislodging local phone companies continues to seem easier said than done.
In today's "Business Life" column of Financial Times, Alison Maitland speaks with Skype's Niklas Zennström.
“We have more than 80m users and we’re getting 250,000 new users a day,” [Zennström] says. “We provide a service for free. If we had full customer service for everyone, we’d have so many people calling us that . . . it would be too costly.”
Unlike most companies, Skype makes no money from the majority of its customers, who use its free downloadable software to make calls from their computers. Its revenues – $60m last year, with a target of $200m this year – come from the small minority who pay to make and receive calls to and from landlines and mobiles (SkypeOut and SkypeIn), and services such as voicemail and personal ring tones.