- Free Skype to Skype calling and messaging
- Call landlines and cell phones with paid plans
- Primarily a free service
- Not useful for internal communications
- Not secure
- Recurring optimization issues on the platform’s mobile applications
Skype is one of the most recognizable VOIP calling platforms on the market. In existence since 2003, the application has gone through several operating changes, upgrades, and billions of customers. Naturally, Skype could be a valued option for low-cost communication between team members with a variety of potential applications for your campaign or advocacy organization.
The “New” Skype
After computing giant Microsoft acquired the Skype technology in 2011, the application has gone through a rapid series of changes. The dawning of Windows 10 also brought along Skype as a preloaded application for PC users. Nevertheless, the company ordered a new design and a new assortment of features that proliferated in 2017.
Users still can use Skype’s basic functions: making video calls with people who have an internet connection and a Skype account. Also, the mainstream personal-use version of Skype has live chat and SMS functions that allow users to send text, photos, and even audio messages. Group video, voice and text chats in the basic version of Skype are also available.
Skype launched a business product, consequently named “Skype for Business” that provides video conferencing services for organizations. The business option for Skype is also scalable and is tied to Microsoft’s Office 365 enterprise offerings for businesses of all types. Meeting recording is still a significant feature as is holding virtual meetings of up to 250 users while maintaining instant messaging as a basic feature.
The Professional Account
Skype has recently announced its new “Professional Account” with small and medium-sized organizations–primarily businesses–in mind. Though the professional account is relatively new and was in limited release in late 2017, Skype users can now manage their business, accept payment, and hold video chat sessions with their clients or customers.
Setbacks with mobile applications and reliability concerns
Skype can be accessed on mobile phones that support Android, iOS, and Microsoft. The features of the desktop versions of Skype (which include Microsoft, Mac OS, and Linux) are shrunk into the mobile application. Despite its widespread use, the mobile app has been the target of much criticism among new and long-term users alike.
Users have a love-hate relationship with Skype, being a viable tool is entirely up to the experience of the user. It does have stability issues on older Android and Apple devices; however, the tool, overall, works and gets the job done.
Reliability has also been scrutinized. Slow load times, pixelation in video calls, and instances of poor call quality are rampant. Nevertheless, like any internet-tied service, the performance is based on meeting basic operating requirements (i.e., internet connection, etc.).
Skype has always been a “free” communication tool. However, Skype for Business and use of the personal version premium features vary under the pricing regime of Microsoft’s Office 365 suite.
Making actual calls through Skype can be paid for through the purchase of “Skype Credit.” If a user purchases Skype Credit, calls are worth an average of 2.3 cents per minute to anywhere in the world. You can buy $10 or $25 worth of credit, and those charges can be auto-renewed on a monthly basis. Calling plans, however, are available and based on geography. The United States plan is $2.99 per month. The North America plan is $6.99 per month, and the World plan is $13.99. All plans cover unlimited calling to mobiles and landlines.
Google Hangouts, a competitor platform to Skype, offers similar services but at a competitive advantage given the nature of Google’s “freemium” services. That said, you can use Google Hangouts at a lower price–or free.
Your organization could benefit from Skype for video conferencing, and, possibly take advantage of the enterprise features of Skype for Business.
However, this VOIP calling provider still works exceptionally well in its free, personal version which can support unlimited calling plans that are generously affordable. Cost-effectiveness is also a factor if you are looking for another way to facilitate internal and external communication in your organization. Skype isn’t for everybody either. If concerns about the user interface or any potential hiccups with call performance are stopping you, then consider a different VOIP provider.
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