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Kazaa and Skype Co-founder Interviewed 107

karvind writes "BBC is running is an interview with Niklas Zennström, the internet entrepreneur behind both Kazaa and Skype, about how his two inventions came about, and how broadband and wireless devices are shaping his vision for the future. From the interview: "On the other hand, Skype, just like Kazaa and other software, are encouraging people to buy broadband connections.""
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Kazaa and Skype Co-founder Interviewed

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 20, 2005 @10:52AM (#12863798)
    ...to install several programs into their startup folders and add browser extensions to enhance the user experience.
    • FTFA:
      Zennström agrees the amount of adware in programs like Kazaa, and some of the other file-sharing networks, is "way too much".
      "It destroys the user experience", he says.
      Kazaa initially had a very limited number of advertisements, which he says "wasn't that bad in the beginning", but they grew over time.
      "That's something that me and Janus learnt as an experience, and with Skype we did not have any type of advertisements whatsoever."
  • position on spyware (Score:4, Interesting)

    by moz25 ( 262020 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @10:55AM (#12863832) Homepage
    One thing I'd like to know is their position on spyware and why it has to be installed along with the actual program? How much money are they getting from it? It's quite annoying.. my father installed Kazaa lately and now he has their spyware on his system... which means that I get the fun job of removing it. Thanks, Niklas!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 20, 2005 @11:02AM (#12863922)
      Spyware was added to Kazaa by Sharman after they bought the rights to it. The original Kazaa developers did not include any spyware. Get your facts straight.
    • by jwegy ( 775655 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @11:05AM (#12863940)
      I thought this was highly interesting when I read
      it, and plus it answered your question. I wonder
      how sincere they are.

      from the article: Zennström agrees the amount of adware in programs like Kazaa, and some of the other file-sharing networks, is "way too much". "It destroys the user experience", he says. Kazaa initially had a very limited number of advertisements, which he says "wasn't that bad in the beginning", but they grew over time. "That's something that me and Janus learnt as an experience, and with Skype we did not have any type of advertisements whatsoever."
      • I believe them since the adware and spyware got out of control after they sold Kazaa. In the beginning, Kazaa was great (that's why it got so popular).

        You can blame them for selling their popular software to such an unscrupulous company, but everyone makes mistakes.

        Skype is a great product, and they make money from long distance calls, and not from ads. With Kazaa, how were they supposed to make money without ads? That was the problem!
    • Who is really using Kazaa today?

      No matter. That is what killed Kazaa in the first place. Of course they say there is no spyware in Kazaa 3.0 [kazaa.com].
    • One thing I'd like to know is their position on spyware and why it has to be installed along with the actual program?

      Err, it's not.

      This wasn't Niklas idea, it was the idea of Sharman Networks.

      And Skype actually doen't have spyware at all.

      This has to be among the most common misunderstandings of Kazaa and this guy and it always comes up in these discussions.
    • As long as there's Spyware included with programs like Kazaa, there will be jobs to remove and prevent the installation of spyware. Much like the virus industry. :) I always tell people I'm always thankful to Microsoft for creating a market for Linux.
  • It's common for dial-up connections to have local charges, so you have to pay-per-minute to access the service.
    For some users, it's still cheaper to use the dialup every now and then to check email, but if the online-time goes
    beyond certain level, it just becomes financially more reasonable to get broadband than to use dialup.
  • Phone companies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dannyitc ( 892023 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @10:57AM (#12863855)
    "We have just started, and if you compare the number of people using Skype to the number using a telephone network around the world, we're still just starting.

    With ambitious statements such as these, I think it's just a matter of time before phone companies start taking a hard look at competition from VoIP in general. Whether they will attempt to embrace the technology and adapt or restrict its usage via litigation (as the RIAA and MPAA have done when confronted with new mediums for delivery) remains to be seen.

    • I think the phone companies have taken a long hard look at the competing technologies, and are fighting back with teeth bared and envelopes stuffed full of political contributions.

      Take a look at the recent upswing in Muni-WiFi legislation, the furthering of lobbying to impose traditional fees and restrictions on VOIP providers, and the bundling of services (POTS, DSL, Cellular/Mobile) coming out of the larger telecoms.

      I recently met a QWest sales rep at a non-business function (think Elementary School Mu
    • From Michael Powell: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <john.lamar@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Monday June 20, 2005 @11:23AM (#12864105) Homepage Journal
      "[VoIP] has ignited a fire under a stalled and depressed industry."

      "It's probably the most significant paradigm shift in the entire history of modern communications, since the invention of the telephone,"

      "If you're going to say to me that Voice over IP is something that needs regulation, then you're going to have to explain to me why e-mail isn't also, or streaming video or instant messaging is not also,"

      Of course, we all know, Michael Powell stepped down and this new guy may not be as friendly.

      What I wanted to find is the quote where Powell talks about downloading and installing Skype - he said that he saw a revolution in front of his eyes when the program started. (or something to that effect)
    • Re:Phone companies (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dr_dank ( 472072 )
      Whether they will attempt to embrace the technology and adapt or restrict its usage via litigation (as the RIAA and MPAA have done when confronted with new mediums for delivery) remains to be seen

      Although they haven't resorted to legal chicanery yet, the telcos still give the VOIP upstarts a crushing disadvantage in one area: E911 compatibility.

      There is already plenty of FUD keeping the average person away for VOIP by the idea that their call won't be properly routed to the appropriate 911 center.

      The di
      • No, they have resorted to legal chicanery [telecomlawblog.com]. They used FUD, and I'm sure a few kickbacks, to persuade a mandate on E911. Mind you this doesn't place any mandate on the telcos to provide any access to the 911 system.

        What really gets me about all of this is that most of the cases that are fueling most of this FUD were ones in which Vonage already provided an E911 connection to the county emergency contact line. It just happens that most counties ignore those lines and only man true 911 lines 24/7.

        So, don't

        • VoIP == Phone ??? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ImaLamer ( 260199 )
          don't mandate telcos to make 911 services universally available

          Here in Cincinnati, we learned that you *must* mandate. We learned the hard way. The telco shut someone's service off and they couldn't call 911. That person had a child die in front of their eyes.

          Then the law was changed so that every phone line must be able to reach 911 in this state. Hey, we here in Ohio don't like to see people die because they don't have a dime to call 911 or they let their phone bill go unpaid.

          Sorry, but life is more i
          • Re:VoIP == Phone ??? (Score:2, Interesting)

            by bedroll ( 806612 )
            Yes, and in New Jersey there's a law that mandates that 911 calls and calls to the local emergency contact go to the same operator and are treated as equal, meaning that E911 worked here as soon as Vonage implemented it. Not that I'm bashing Ohio, because I'm from there, but there are better ways to implement mandates.

            The point is that the mandate is wrong. They're mandating someone to do something without mandating anyone else to comply. It was well-known before all of this that E911 is seriously lacking
  • and I had - on the BBC last week. Don't you just hate it when you find things out before Slashdot does? You have to spend time actually doing something at work then...
  • by lxt ( 724570 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @11:00AM (#12863893) Journal
    Kazaa encourages users to break the law. And if they're not particularly bright users, how to unknowingly break the law. There was a load of lawsuits sent out last month by the BPI (British equivalent of the RIAA) a month or so ago, and the general reaction was "Oh, I didn't know Kazaa was illegal" (generally everyone being sued were Kazaa users).

    Aside from that, surely I'm not the only person here who finds it extremely hard - no, impossible - to believe that "while Zennström thought it had great potential from the start, he did not know exactly what people would use it for"? Because he then goes on to say in the article he didn't think Kazaa would get to the stage where it could compete with Napster...presumably he knew that the primary use of Napster at the time was illegal downloading?
    • That relates to the same gripe I have about most ISPs or even computer manufacturers such as Dell.

      Almost every commercial for a broadband ISP raves about how you can "download movies and music" fast! Even a recent Dell commercial I saw mentioned how you can use your new PC to download movies and music.

      I know there are a few places where you can legitimately download music online, but a large number of people don't use them. Even if they do, 1GB of AAC/WMA songs isn't cheap.

      I still don't know of any

      • MovieLink [movielink.com] is one. Also, those "little video clips" from places like ifilm.com are fun to watch, and can be a real pain at less-than-broadband speeds.

        There are also lots of internet radio stations, online music stores, and legal free downloadables around.

        And for those who like their adult entertainment with a side of legality, there are lots of VOD sites that really need a fast connection to use.
    • Kazaa encourages users to break the law.

      No, it doesn't. Laws that people don't understand nor actually agree with encourage people to break the law. The end user wants to think that their computer is similiar to their tape recorder. Is it illegal to tape things off the radio? Why then is it illegal to download things off the internet that you could get for free elsewhere? These are the questions that the end user asks themselves right before they install kazaa.
      • Not in my experience. More likely they say to themselves "Free music! It's big and commercial and everyone uses it, so it can't be that bad, can it?" And that's if they get beyond the first sentence to even consider the larger picture.
      • If you listened to an online radio station and recorded it from there, I think it would be legal. They have the right to distribute music like that. You don't.
    • Kazaa encourages users to break the law.

      Just as bars encourage people to drive drunk. The fact is most people leaving a bar between midnight and 2am are legally drunk (by US standards) but you don't hear any serious talk of prohibition. Just because you can go out and get fall-down drunk doesn't mean you need to. Beat on the people breaking the law, not those trying to keep things within the scope of ligitimate use.

      the general reaction was "Oh, I didn't know Kazaa was illegal"

      Unless things are differe
    • What dumb users share their entire hard-drives and then tick the box labelled "allow anyone to see a list of all my files"?
  • by mister_llah ( 891540 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @11:00AM (#12863898) Homepage Journal
    Niklas Zennström: "I want to create a medium where 13 year olds can rename large files to the names of new game disk images and movies ... and put them online for download, it will provide them with hours of enjoyment... AND, here's the sinker, it will take away from SETI AT HOME'S BANDWIDTH! Those bastards will never discover my home planet now! MUAHAH!"

    [[ note: this quotation has been fictionalized and may not actually represent reality ]]
  • Technologically, Skype doesn't bring anything new to the table, true. NetMeeting had voice chat back in the day. Still, the compression algorithm is pretty good, and it's the only way to engage in voice chat between platforms.

    I'm on a Mac and it's been a boon for me and my Windows-using long-distance girlfriend. There's a Linux version as well.
  • How easy is it to use skype (esp. behind NAT)?

    • Using it behind NAT on Mac and Linux, no problems at all.
    • How easy is it to use skype (esp. behind NAT)?

      That's part of the allure of Skype... it's easy to set up out of the box and works perfectly behind NATs.

      1. Install Skype
      2. Register for account (pretty simple)
      3. You're done :)

      At least, that's been my experience with Skype on PC and Mac behind a NAT. And my NAT usually interferes with most stuff unless I do port-forwarding (which Skype doesn't need).

    • It's trivially easy. I have a FC3 box with DSL through a FreeSCO box. I thought it would be difficult to configure, but to my amazement it worked at the first attempt, without having to tweak a single setting in the FC3 or the FreeSCO box.
  • by pasamio ( 737659 )
    Why is the CEO, CIO and every other person involved with Kazaa and in Australian courts and having their houses raided and this bloke gets in on the BBC. Its interesting to see where things go. These guys are being hauled through Australian courts and this bloke is no where to be seen. Check out http://www.apcmag.com/apc/v3.nsf/0/412A621F4556A65 FCA256E77001DD222 [apcmag.com] and http://www.apcmag.com/apc/v3.nsf/0/7CC596EF71F41B3 4CA256E77001E31D0 [apcmag.com] for some information (they're a bit old, but do the trick)
  • It's interesting to note that they talk about how Skype and Kazaa are encouraging people to adopt broadband usage. I do remember back in the day how agonizing it was trying to download mp3s on dialup. In fact, I didn't really want to download any for fear of bashing my head in from being so damn frustrated. I have used Skype also (still have it loaded on the 'puter) but I think it's more of the "established" businesses and practices that are pushing broadband (that and "Keeping up with the Joneses"). I now
  • by CKW ( 409971 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @02:57PM (#12866139) Journal
    It hasn't just got a lot of us buying broadband, but a ton of us have bought anywhere between 1 and 10 new super-huge hard-drives over the past 2+ years, CD/DVD Burners, spindles of CDRs/DVDRs, and now having downloaded a 40 minute TV episode that is a 1.5 GB xvid 720p, I'm feeling the need for a 3800+ system with a brand new $500 video card!!
  • I'm not a shill for Skype but it has reduced our company's monthly expenses. Members of our dev team are geographically spread out all across the country and our guys stay in constant contact with Skype; we prefer it to IM because voice is more immediate than typing and their hands are free to work (code) or, if you know anything about our product, do 'other' things :-) Instead of the variable cost of long distance charges, we have the one-time fixed cost of a good quality USB headset for each employee --
  • Been done before (Score:2, Insightful)

    by alpha713 ( 701963 )
    Neither Kazaa nor Skype were inventions as such, sure the technology behind them may be impressive, but an invention is something that has never been done before.Both Netmeeting and Paltalk are examples of programs that have used voice chat in the past (with Napster being the relevant example for Kazaa). What he has effectively done is step into market niches, otherwise known as being in the right place at the right time.

    The technology may well be impressive, but cutting the phone companies profits will
  • by rch2 ( 604548 )
    How about "Software Nuker" adding Skype to their adware list? Frankly I'm afraid of running Skype on my PC - I don't trust it.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"