Let’s get this out-of-the-way, I’m a Microsoft employee (at the time of this writing). It’s company policy to announce this when writing about company products, services, software, announcements, and anything remotely related to the technology industry. Disclaimer noted. This weekend, my child was asking questions about FaceTime vs Skype. Which is better? Why use one over the other? Whatever your technology of choice might be (Skype, Hangouts, Messenger, and more) communication has made great strides in the last ten years. Close your eyes. Go back in time. Think hard. Ever travel internationally? I remember going to great lengths to avoid roaming fees, including walking blocks to find a prepaid phone card down a back ally near a Chinese market. After the purchase, I ran back to the hotel room, dialed a number, and then entered a 52 digit code to complete the call. “Hello, darling, I only have a few of these cards so make it quick.”

There is a ton of cost/regulation in phone lines crossing country boundaries. Skype disrupted this. And today, the peer-to-peer technology manages more voice minutes than any telephony carrier in the world. That’s true collaboration, making the world flatter. And others followed. Everyone chases a good idea.

That being said, the United States is dominated by the iPhone. And for a child, the iPod is an amazing device. Without having to get a cell phone, a kid can iMessage his grandparents and make voice and video calls. As long as it’s iDevice to iDevice, there are no restrictions.

Yet, we recently started to play around with Skype again. It wasn’t because of the multi-platform nature of the service (XBOX, Android, iOS, and Windows and about any other device in the world). No. It wasn’t that. It did help. But I made the switch because of the Skype emoticons. They are incredible. Here are my top five:

(1) Nothing can compete with the dancing turkey. See the awesomeness for yourself. Play your song of choice. No matter the beat, the dancing turkey nails it.

(2) I really loved Pixar’s Inside/Out. It’s a fantastic movie and is a great tool to talk about emotions with young children. It’s a hard topic. But Pixar nailed it. In the movie, I loved joy, sadness, anger, and fear. But disgust? I thought she was great in the movie until my kid kept saying “Duh!” all the time. If I get the simplest things mixed-up or make the wrong word choice, it’s all “Duh!” all the time. But hey, I love the emoticon. Yes, I get it from my kid a couple of times each day. Along with the rest of the Pixar gang.

(3) The Muppets. Go watch Fozzy do the Salmonella bit. I’m glad they brought them back on ABC.

(4) Minions. It’s hard to top the diabolical laughter. If only I could hear the little yellow monsters say banana too. That never gets old. Banana. Banana. Banana. Some developer needs to add this.

(5) Ninja sword. What’s more cool than ninjas? Most things, but I still like it. Hey, I’m a child of the 80s. Ninjas were cool back then. Weren’t they?

In any product development, adoption can be pushed with sleek design, usability, and brand image. My kid doesn’t believe Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. He’s pretty sure Steve Jobs did. At least, the Apple founder did give the true inventor of the telephone his due.

“Did Alexander Graham Bell do any market research before he invented the telephone?”

Steve Jobs

Big shifts in technology come around only so often. PC Revolution. Internet. eCommerce. Mobile. Collaboration. But most of the time, it’s the little things that make the difference. So behold the wonders of the dancing turkey. Incremental improvements do matter. The little things can make a big difference, even gimmicky keyboard shortcuts.


Skype will always have the advantage in the emoticon race. It takes advantage of the iOS keyboard and all the defaults. So, it cheats a bit.

For the few who don’t use Skype already. If you’re curious, there are a few alternatives out there for those who want to hangout.

Pixar is truly an amazing company. Ed Catmull has a great book out there, Creativity Inc., It’s worth the read.