Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Skype-Killer from Telcos? Can Elephants Fly?

When I read Om Malik's "Global Telcos Plotting a Skype Rival" post this morning, one word flashed in my brain: PL/1 -- IBM's 1960s Cobol-like programming language. I learned it many moons ago, working in the IT department of a public utility. If you never heard of PL/1, there's a good reason. 

It had all the earmarks of something that was designed by committee. It was big and unwieldy, and it did everything -- almost. That was the problem. It almost did what you wanted, but not quite. 

That's the picture I get from a dozen or so telecos trying to build a VoIP client to compete with an established, easy-to-use tool that's compact, efficient and honed for its intended purpose. It's likely to be as successful as PL/1. I doubt Skype has anything to worry about from that quarter. 

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