Skype is the largest and most well-known VoIP network in the world, and it is hard to imagine it as anything else. However, a recent AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit has revealed that the company’s role as a voice calling service was never intended to be the primary source of revenue. In a strange turn of events, Skype evolved from what should have been a Wi-Fi-sharing program into the colossal call network that it is today.
Jaan Tallinn, an integral member of the original Skype team, wrote in his AMA, “The initial idea was to develop a Wi-Fi-sharing network, and then provide various ‘telecom-like’ services on top of that.”
According to Tallinn, the original plan was to develop a service where users could share their extra bandwidth with others. In essence, Skype would have allowed crowd-sourced Wi-Fi to become a reality; a service that is comparable to the current offerings of Fon. TV and telephony services were to eventually be added onto the existing Wi-Fi-sharing platform, but these features were originally dismissed as just an afterthought.
So what prevented this plan from materializing? In fact, the main problem didn’t have anything to do with Skype itself, but instead Kazaa, a P2P sharing network that was also owned byTallinn and his fellow co-founders. At the time, Kazaa was battling a copyright infringement lawsuit, and this setback prevented the team from adding a TV service to the new website.
Upon further investigation, the Skype team also came to the realization that no decent VoIP services existed; none of which matched the standards that they deemed acceptable. Consequently, they decided to focus their efforts on the this aspect of the business - at least until Kazaa's legal issues had been resolved. The mini-project surpassed any and all expectations, and Skype is now home to over 600 million users.