How Skype changed the world

To Skype, or to not Skype? I think we all know the answer.
A man looking into a laptop indicating how Skype has changed the world

Can you imagine a world without video chat? Over the years when I travel for work, I check in with my kids back at home via Google Hangout. To me, it is so much more fun to chat with them through video, than it would be to only hear their voice. They love to “see” what I am up to and it just makes me feel closer to them when I am not able to be there in person.

I owe it all to Skype. They literally revolutionized the communication industry with the introduction of their service in 2002. Not because they were the first to provide the ability to converse through video and instant messaging, but because they provided it to the masses at a feasible price—free! That is when lives were changed forever.

How has Skype transformed the world? They allow people to stay in touch with their friends and family no matter where they live or work through instant messaging or video. The service really took off for those that were the farthest apart.

For the first time ever, people could keep in touch with those halfway around the globe. Moms with children deployed in the military, relatives living abroad, and even business colleagues located remotely. The service also allowed businesses an alternative option to expensive video conferencing.

At a small fraction of the old cost for an international phone call, people could now hear and see the people they craved to keep in touch with, which meant that they could do it more often. You know that something is truly metamorphic when others begin to imitate it. Skype has certainly influenced others in this regard—look at Apple’s Facetime and Google’s Hangout, which are now staples in the average person’s life.

Each and every day, there are multi-faceted new apps being developed trying to help people simplify or enrich their lives. Many of them will require communication of some sort. Look at Uber where you need to talk to the driver, Airbnb where you contact the renter and Zeebox where you engage in discussions with other fans. In those particular instances, you are merely interested in a quick transaction so instant messaging would be the communication of choice.

When a long-term and more extensive relationship is required, in either our personal and business lives, more avenues of communication are a necessity. During an executive leadership class a few years ago, I learned that the best way to bolster a relationship is to spend face-to-face time with that person. The teacher went on to further claim that face to face is the only way to build a strong relationship. Why is that? Human beings communicate more through visual clues than we do through merely speaking. That casual hand motion, the eyebrow raise, the soft smile or even simple eye contact enhance the dialog and help strengthen the connection.

What truly makes our lives worth living is the wonderful relationships we build during them, and communication is the foundation. What will the next best innovation be in the communication space? If only I had a crystal ball. Now if somebody could invent a communication app where you could reach in and hug that person too, that would be truly spectacular. Maybe someday?!