27 December 2010

Is Google Voice A Substitute for Skype

The December 22nd outage on Skype was not a good day for many of Skype's more than half a billion users.

Most people use Skype personally for individual one:one calling. But increasingly a lot of us are using Skype for collaborative work. I was a big fan of Jabber before the empire of Cisco acquired it and shut down the free service.

But there are some interesting alternatives.

Most people are being directed to Google Voice but Google TALK/VOICE is not flexible and doesnt have many of the features that makes Skype so easy and straightforward to uses. Also we all know that Google is going to capture the information about you and use it for its nefarious ends. So if its all the same to you no thanks!

So what other tools can you use.

Here is a smattering of them with different options.

1. Consider a demo/whiteboard/desktop sharing app. There are several out there with free small crippled versions. I like DimDim and Mikago. of course you can spend a lot of money on Webex and other tools. DimDim and Mikago are lite and simple to use.

2. Consider other IP calling tools - iCall or XJack are good examples. You can also use Vonage for different call types for a fixed monthly or annual fee. In France for example free calling is bundled with almost every plan you can get from the 3 major providers such as SFR and Orange.

3. There are many collaborative programs such as I mentioned in the #1 but here was one I found that is really quite good and offers a lot of features. SAP's Streamwork. We also use Basecamp that has some tools for demo and sharing.

4. There are various dedicated chat programs such as ICQ, MS Live Messenger and even the venerable AIM.

However with Skype - especially if you stuck with it for a long time as I have - now 4 years and counting - then you realize it is a very useful service.


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