Is Skype the new SmartTag?

Tonight I had dinner with Ajit Jaokar, CEO of Futuretext, a publishing company that publishes tech books like Mobile Web 2.0 and Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger (he writes a VoIP blog over on ZDNet, but also has political blogs and other blogging jobs over on Weblogs Inc, among others).

Anyway, during dinner we talked about some of the trends and things we were seeing. One thing Amit and I both noticed is Skype’s new “Click to Call” feature in its latest beta.

What does it do? Well, it turns a phone number like 425-205-1921 into a clickable number (using Skype of course). That’s pretty darn cool, right? But, I wondered what would happen if MSN Messenger started doing that? Who would win? The most recently installed? Or would you see two links for every phone number?

Why does that matter? Well, it’ll add up to big bucks for whoever gets their little utility installed on the most machines. Skype, obviously, gets installed on lots of machines so this functionality really takes over and makes it possible to do a lot more calls.

On my machine I forget that Skype is even there. I just take it for granted. I click the number and Skype calls it. I don’t even need my cell phone anymore.

This is really pretty darn powerful. And wait until it comes to your mobile phone.

Anyway, remember how we were all mad that Microsoft tried doing something similar in IE 6 betas? Yeah, we were pissed cause Microsoft was putting advertisements on top of our content.

How is this any different? Yes, it’s useful. Yes, its scope is limited to only phone numbers (today). But, aren’t we on a slippery slope here? I can just see a bunch of toolbars trying to do the same thing and the user experience going downhill. But maybe that’s just me. What do you think?

Oh, and Amit has a whole post titled “I am a tag not a number!” to further get you thinking about the implications of this new trend.


The “last” Gillmor Gang?

I’m sitting with Denise Howell (who, sometime in the next week, will start a “ThisWeekInLaw” show along with Leo Laporte) and she says the latest Gillmor Gang is quite excellent. It’s the one where Jason Calacanis and Steve Gillmor and the rest of the gang go on and on about Adam Curry and PodShow’s latest $15 million VC funding. Jason Calacanis told me this could be the last Gillmor Gang because of what was said about Adam Curry (the show is hosted on Adam’s Podshow network).