Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase
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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.

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Luis on September 1, 2009  · 

I think skype is still not good enough in convincing people to buy skype out. You just show them the real advantages, that there are many, an they will buy.

Smart phones can really make the difference, but i know, too much trouble…. but i think this guys are going to take the risk, at the end we ARE free to use whatever application is online (and free to use).

Tom Tom….. try getting your gps in EVERY new car that is sold. Or say bye bye.

Please Martin, whatever you where thinking about skype, forget it. Please….. think mobile or think teleco, not user. Please.

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Mariano on September 1, 2009  · 

I think that Skype should find a way to compete with roaming in cellphones. For those who travel around the world, would be great to have Skype services in our cellphones paying a little increase in Skype’s prices or paying a flat fee per month in order to get a 3G connection that could be used in any country.

Everytime I travel to other country, I have to find a wifi spot to make cheap calls with my Skype. If I don’t find any spot I have to pay a lot of money per minute of call in a roaming mode.

At the end, the message is: Ok, I will pay 20 dollars per month to skype, but I want to be connected to a 3G connection in any country around the world and make cheap calls paying regular skype fares.

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Falko on September 1, 2009  · 

I found an Error “I don´t go around the world carrying a Tom Tom navigator.” If you carry an iPhone then you could carry a TomTom as well, since they have an iPhone Version, they also have a symbian client. I bet if Android continues growing at the current speed they will consider porting their app there as well. GARMIN supposely does that allready.
Car Navigation with GoogleMaps is nothing more like having a regular map with the best route allready drawn on it, no speech feedback, no 3D maping… Also by-foot-navigation (or by bike;) with google is still very experimental, TomTom does that very well. And when you really need your Navigation Device because you are in another country on vacation, having a data connection running all the time is no option (although I with the EU would force to make it 😉
Wouldn´t it be nice if there was TomTom on an OpenPlatform like Android where you can use other apps to feed it with destinations? Qype, Google, OpenDirectory, FONMaps… should be able to post the destination to your TomTom…
So we need a TomTom phone or a smartphone version for Blackberry, Android…

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Daniel on September 2, 2009  · 

Well I was thinking the other day that it would be really useful if my tomtom go 520 would blink when it found an open wifi network. Today I was thinking that what I needed was to add fonmaps as POI´s to my gps so it would take me to a fonspot that I could use. You may all have been using it for ages, but I just don´t know is it exists…

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Martin Varsavsky on September 2, 2009  · 

Yes it should have wifi!

andreas w gerdes on September 2, 2009  · 

yes, spot on and feels right. hope they will pick up your cycling output.

ciao, andreas

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Dave Stone on September 2, 2009  · 

It’d be worth reading “The bright side of sitting in traffic: Crowdsourcing road congestion data”,

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Martin Varsavsky on September 2, 2009  · 

Great article. That´s my point. Google is doing a great job at this except that they can´t deliver Tom Tom quality displays to your car. That´s why the Tom Tom and Google functionalities should merge.

Ludo on September 2, 2009  · 

Tom Tom is now coming to the Iphone.
Let’s hope this good idea will be part of future releases….

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