Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I don´t know why, but I do have my best and worst ideas when I am riding on my mountain bike. A few times a week I get in my car and go to the Sierra de Madrid which is around 30m from my office and ride there. I rarely run into anybody, it is incredible vast and empty. If you look a the population density map of Spain you will see that Madrid is an island of people in a sea of nada. And I love riding in the “nada”. So I go there, frequently alone. I ride on my bike and I start….thinking. What else? And I have wild thoughts. It´s kind of dreaming awake. Many don´t make much sense but some do.

All this intro was meant to tell that I just came back from riding my bike and this is what I thought that may be worthwhile. I was wondering why would my friends and partners in Fon (Danny, Mike, Janus, Niklas) buy Skype again. I know they all became rich thanks to Skype but why risk being poorer thanks to Skype. So first thing I thought is what would I do to Skype to make enough money to justify its super high price. And my IDEA was, an alliance with Google. How would this work? Well, Google is great at convincing people to do new things that they did not know they wanted to do. And some of them are quite negative but they do them in the end because the reward is greater than the pain. By pain I mean advertising. So Google has convinced millions that Gmail is a great product, never mind that Google´s computers read your emails in search for words that may induce you to buy something that is related to your email. So if I write to Nina, why don´t we go to Ibiza this weekend, her email will come with ads of hotels in Ibiza, restaurants in Ibiza, flights to Ibiza. And tens of millions of people get these every day. And tens of millions of people don´t mind.

Now think of Skype. Why not do the same with voice technology and chat? People chat, you give them contextual ads. People say things, you listen to what they say and give them contextual ads. If they put up with this in Gmail why not in Skype? And all of a sudden Skype would be worth a lot more. So that´s the first idea.

The second idea concerns Tom Tom, a great company that in my view is now facing serious if not terminal threat from Smartphones. I go around the world, literally, even in Japan, using Google Maps in my Blackberry or iPhone (there is no clear winner, I carry both). I don´t go around the world carrying a Tom Tom navigator. Why? Other than the fact that many times when I check Google Maps I am walking and not in a car it´s all because of search. Now how could Tom Tom bring search to its devices? Using Smartphones. I like the big screen of the Tom Tom. I would like for the Tom Tom though to be integrated with Google Maps, not for display but for search. For display Tom Tom technology is still better. So I would like to be able to search in my Blackberry, send the result over Bluetooth to my Tom Tom and then have the Tom Tom guide me. It´s all about search and input. It´s at that level that Google Maps kills Tom Tom. Oh and I forgot about traffic info. I want that live in my Tom Tom as well.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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Luis on September 1, 2009  · 

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