Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Web 2.0 vs America
"...Start talking with people in Montana about Skype, for example, and their eyes glaze over, he said."
Link. Funny, start talking with people in say, India, China, Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Egypt, Poland, Israel, Spain, Italy, Lebanon, or Nepal about Skype, like I have, and they'll tell you how cool they think it is.
Of course, most of those guys are also not busy arguing whether the earth got created 4000 or 4 billion years ago.
Perhaps that could be because the people you talk to in India, China, Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Egypt, Poland, Israel, Spain, Italy, Lebanon, or Nepal are predisposed toward technology.
I think it is safe to assume that the average street vendor in India, like the average Montana resident, has no clue about Skype, or frankly a use for it.
It's great that we have technology like thia at our fingertips, but let's also realize that this is not average. With even broadband penetration in the US below 50% it won't be for a while, especially in rural areas.
Thanks for the comment. In fact, the people I talked to are mostly friends and family - not geeks at all.
They simply have a different value prop than Americans, for whom most things are cheap - like connectivity; I think they're far more open to learning about new things as well.
First note: 71% of the English speaking World lives within US borders.
I was asked this same question by a local reporter doing a piece on skype ... after we talked it through, we concluded that skype is most attractive to people who need to make cross-border calls. In the US I can speak with the vast majority of the World's English speakers w/out having to cross a single borders .... so I don't need free VOIP ... long distance in the US is typically slightly cheaper than skype-out.
Show me a US resident who is either an immigrant or works in cross-border commerce and I'll show you a skype user. It's just a small % of the US online demographic.
Beyond that, the telecom "culture" in the US is largely counter-intuitive to the R.O.W. (dont get me started about the missed cell phone opportunity over here).
Once VOIP becomes portable ... it may have a chance in the US ... because the mobile model here is HUGELY flawed in that users are typically charged for incoming minutes - which is frankly REDICULOUS and is why we have the smallest cellular industry of all developed nations (on a per capita basis)
... the cell providers here see the threat of mobile VOIP though ... sprint/nextel just launched "free incoming" ... and if the other providers do the same before VOIP is mobile, SKYPE will remain as obscure as it is today ... until the R.O.W. learns English that is ...
Fwiw, Mary Meeker's presentation at Web 2.0 had a slide that showed Skype's adoption curve. Supposedly it is the fastest growing application ever.
America's US-centrism is a significant achilles heel.
eBay has already added Skype to Kijiji:
(That's just for Japan but the integration is global.)