SKYPE REsearch Project YOUNG-A GROUP 6 Jason Gladu Jordan Gurrentz Kara Hargrove Ashley Buenrostro Ashley Brocato
table of contents Executive summary 1 Introduction 2 Situation Analysis 3-9 qualitative analysis 10-15 quantitative research 16-20 recommendations 21-22 future research & limitations 23-24 references 25-27 appendix a: survey code 28-31
Executive summary Our research project studies Skype usage among college students at the University of Texas at Austin, specifically focusing on why people use Skype, how they feel about Skype, and how often, if at all, they use Skype. Observations have shown that people use Skype to talk with friends and family more than any other reason, among college students. The purpose of our research is to better understand why only 24% of students use Skype (Mintel). Our secondary research consisted of reading articles on Skype and VoIP software. We used Mintel and Pew reports to give us a clearer and accurate understanding of how college students use technology and view technology in general. Our SWOT analysis revealed some of the threats that Skype and the VoIP industry is currently facing and will continue to face in the future, such as privacy and access on college campuses. The research is intended to help Skype better understand how to connect with college students and increase usage. After establishing and refining the problem, crafting a situation analysis that consisted of a SWOT analysis was the next step to develop a better understanding of the VoIP industry and the needs of college students in regards to VoIP. A focus group was conducted after the information from the SWOT was narrowed down to focus on a few key issues. Once ideas were compiled from the focus group and initial secondary research, a few hypotheses and indices were drafted which led to the development of questions for the class survey that was sent out to about 400 participants. We chose to focus on the social pressures students feel to use Skype, the attitudes formed about Skype, and Skype use. We ran correlations against our focuses to analyze relationships and ensure reliability. The project spanned around three months. To understand the data better, we ran correlations across the three variables. Each relationship was significant and positive. This means the results affirmed our hypotheses. But it should be noted that our data and research cannot be generalized beyond the University of Texas at Austin campus. After careful analysis, we have made a few recommendations including increasing positive impressions and usage among friends and family. The VoIP industry is changing rapidly as technology increases at an exponential rate; therefore, future researchers should explore the interactivity between parents and children via Skype and social media.
introduction In the past decade technological advances have dramatically changed the way in which we communicate. Often, college students and young adults are seen as early adopters of new and innovative technologies, especially in the communications field. However, high volumes of college students are not utilizing Skype, one of the worlds leading communications applications. This research project aims to explore, understand and explain this discrepancy. Created in 2003, Skype is a peer-to-peer application that enables communication via the Internet using VoIP technology. This technology transmits communication over Internet Protocol networks allowing users to communicate more easily. After downloading the free Skype software to their personal computer or mobile devices users are instantly able to access other Skype users. The application offers free voice and video calling as well as text messaging. For a fee users are also able to call landlines and mobile phones. Skype is available anywhere that has a viable internet source, making it a more efficient form of communication in areas around the world that may not have access to landlines. Despite Skypeâ€™s high volume of users only 24% of college students are currently using the application (Mintel, 2011). Given the fact that an overwhelming majority of college students own either a personal computer or mobile device this number is lower than expected. The research, conducted at The University of Texas at Austin, consists of secondary research as well as primary. Primary research includes a focus group in which we attempted to identify why college students are not using Skype, to better understand student needs and to understand how Skype fits in with those needs. A survey was also distributed to help understand why people use Skype, how they feel about Skype, and how often if at all they use the application. The survey aimed to assess the current situation and to better understand how Skype can increase the number of college students who are using the application. With this information recommendations have been provided as well as future research and limitations.
situation analysis table 1.1 - skype swot table Strengths
• Free Service[i] • Usability: moves across platforms[ii] • Top choice for news and entertainment outlets: Oprah and CNN International [iii][iv] • Dominates international call market share [v] • Diversity of language options [vi] • Current partnerships: Comcast and Citrix[vii] • Apps that supplement Skype[viii] • Partnership with Facebook[ix] • Skype ready accessories that enhance the experience • Adaptability of Skype into the home/office setting • Ownership by Microsoft [x][xi] • “Click and Call”[xii]
• Lack of Privacy and Skype Security [xiv] • Having to have access to Wifi and WIfi connection issues. [xiii] • Customer Service [xv]
• Utilizing Skype as a platform for teachers • Advertising in Skype • Ability to expand partnerships • Skype enabled land-line phone • Skype expanding office communications [xvi] • Skype attracts a wealthier, more educated audience[xvii] • Expanding into the medical field and other fields: Doctors can talk to patients
• Competitors such as oovoo, Vonage, iChat, Google Plus, a huge competitor[xix] and Facetime[xviii] • Legal looming issues: Gradient Enterprises v Skype [xx][xxi] • Governments limiting telecommunications
situation analysis [i] Skype. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/prices/ [ii] Skype. (2011, September 15). Retrieved from Skype. (2011). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype [iii] Winfrey, o. (2009, May 19). The many uses of skype video. Retrieved from http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/TheMany-Uses-of-Skype-Video [iv] Parkes, P. (2009, September 9). Connecting the world with skype and cnn [Web log message]. Retrieved from http:// blogs.skype.com/en/2009/09/connecting_the_world_with_skyp.html [v] Skype. (2011, September 15). Retrieved from Skype. (2011). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype [vi] Skype limited. (2011, September 07). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype_Limited#cite_note-8 [vii] Press room. (2011, June 15). Retrieved from http://about.skype.com/press/partnerships/ [viii] App directory. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://shop.skype.com/apps/ [ix] Kincaid, J. (2011, July 6th). Facebook launches skype-powered video calling. Retrieved from http://techcrunch. com/2011/07/06/facebook-launches-skype-powered-video-calling/ [x] Davies, M. (2011, May 11). Skype owner silver lake made $5 billion in microsoft deal, sources say. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/11/skype-owners-silver-lake-microsoft_n_860450.html [xi] kype's groupme helps boost mister softee. (2011, August 09). Retrievedhttp://www.forbes.com/sites/ greatspeculations/2011/08/29/skypes-groupme-helps-boost-mister-softee/ [xii] Parkes, P. (2009, September 9). Connecting the world with skype and cnn [Web log message]. Retrieved from http:// blogs.skype.com/en/2009/09/connecting_the_world_with_skyp.html [xiii] Mahassel, Shadi. (2011, August 17)Skype wifi - now available on iphone, ipad or ipod touch.. Retrieved from http:// blogs.skype.com/en/2011/08/skype_wifi_-_now_available_on.html [xiv] Greene, M. (2011, July 15). Know the real hype about skype!. Retrieved from http://oit.ncsu.edu/news-releases/ know-real-hype-about-skype [xv] Consumer complaints & reviews. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.consumeraffairs.com/cell_phones/skype.html [xvi] Wunker, S. (2010, August 09). Skype ipo illustrates growth potential of new markets. Retrieved from http://www. newmarketsadvisors.com/blog/bid/28408/Skype-IPO-illustrates-growth-potential-of-new-markets [xvii] Skype.com. (2011, August). Retrieved from http://www.quantcast.com/skype.com [xviii] Google Plus (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/ [xix] Aaker, (2011, July 22). Growth of google plus vs twitter vs facebook; google+ got 10 million users just in 16 days [stat]. Retrieved from http://www.buzzom.com/2011/07/growth-of-google-plus-vs-twitter-vs-facebook-stat/ [xx] Gradient Enterprises v Skype Technologies. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://news.priorsmart.com/gradient-enterprises-vskype-technologies-l3xU/ [xxi] Gatto, K. (2010, December 27). Skype enters 2011 with lawsuit from gradient. Retrieved from http://vator.tv/ news/2010-12-27-skype-enters-2011-with-lawsuit-from-gradient
situation analysis Skype is a software-based product started in 2003 in Luxembourg (“About Skype” n.d.). The peerto-peer system mirrored off of Kazaa, seeing as the developers of Skype also developed Kazaa, is unlike other services that are client server systems (Thomann, 2006). The software application allows individuals or businesses to communicate by using messaging, file sharing, and video conferencing. Voice communication via traditional landlines, mobile phones, or phone to computer is another feature of Skype. Operating on multiple platforms that transcend the technology sector, Skype is on the forefront of technology averaging 170 million users in the fourth quarter of 2010 (“About Skype” n.d.). Microsoft acquired Skype in May 2011. Strengths Free Service A key aspect to reaching an important target audience, college students, is Skype’s ability to offer the product for free. Video chatting with one person, conference calling, and instant messaging are all free features that are used regularly and helped contribute to the 207 billion minutes spent on Skype in the fourth quarter of 2010 (“About Skype” n.d.). With the market size being around 145 million current users including 2.2 million college students, the potential for growth is significant as 24% of college students currently use Skype (Mintel, 2011). Accessories Another important strength is Skype’s unique ability to brand accessories has brought it great success. Instead of just marketing a VoIP, Skype has evolved by marketing Skype-ready phones, adapters, speakerphones, and applications for existing products. However, the ability for televisions to be Skype ready and communicate naturally with Skype will allow multiple people on one side of Skype, for instance there could be fifteen people in one room calling an individual who is not in the room, to all easily see the other individual because the television size would be greater than the group huddling around a computer monitor. Included in this category would be Skype applications for various products including the iPhone and iPad. These applications and accessories greatly enhance the visibility and accessibility of Skype. People no longer have to associate Skype with just computers because they have moved into the mobile platforms and even the regular home communication platforms, such as television and telephones.
situation analysis Breadth of Coverage Skype’s breadth of coverage on national and international television is a true strength of the product. Skype has become a household product, finding its way onto popular TV shows and news outlets. Seeing as Skype is a video provider, these shows, including Oprah and CNN International, use the video feeds to bring in talent that otherwise would not be able to make it on to the show due to geographical or time factors. CNN uses Skype to bring in people from “Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin America” (Parkes, 2009). Skype allows Oprah to bring in viewers to allow her to “know what people are doing” (Oprah, 2009). Skype’s ability to bring people from all over the world together is a clear strength; moreover, the notoriety Skype has received on these shows proves the technology works. A few other strengths that should be acknowledged in addition to the key strengths are the growth within the current partnership such as Facebook and Microsoft international call market share. Partnerships Skype also utilizes company partnerships to propel the growth of the product both locally and internationally. Skype and Facebook reached a deal in October 2010 to allow Facebook users to video chat with their friends via Skype (Beard, 2010). This partnership made Skype even easier to use because users, who are connected through Facebook, no longer had to look up their friends in Skype’s search. On June 14, 2011, Comcast announced a partnership with Skype in which they will enable “Comcast customers to communicate with friends and family through HD video calling on their television (“Comcast and Skype”, 2011). This partnership, as well as others with Verizon, KDDI, and Hutchison will provide alternative means to use Skype rather than solely on a computer. Thus far, excluding the Facebook deal, Skype has entered into 18 partnerships, all of which advance Skype in terms of market share (“Partnerships”, 2011). New Ownership The acquisition of Skype by Microsoft early in 2011 is another strength Skype has. Skype will be welcomed into a family of products that has built up a rapport with the public. However, Microsoft might actually be the biggest winner in the whole transaction, as they now have a voice client for their Windows 7 phones and contacts with Skype’s carriers (Malik, 2011).
situation analysis Opportunities Engaging Young Students Spreading Skype to students, specifically college students, is happening almost organically for Skype. Teachers in high schools and college professors alike are using Skype to bring in experts on certain topics or other teachers who might have more knowledge on a subject. Skype is taking advantage of this opportunity by launching Made by Many, a website that asks teachers what aged children they teach (McEleny, 2011). This provides invaluable information to Skype: they can see in real numbers how many children are being exposed to Skype. These connections could result in relationships with these children down the road. Advertising Skype is planning on advertising their software in the near future. This opportunity could be one of Skype’s best and biggest chances to generate revenue. The ads, initially, will be non-obtrusive and will not interrupt conversations. Skype believes “that advertising, when done in the right way, will help [them] continue to invest in developing great products” (Brewsher, 2011). Advertising presents a slew of problems, but more than anything, the money made from advertising will propel Skype into all of the aforementioned Microsoft products with ease as the cash flow will be readily available. The advertisements will be Skype’s attempt at generating some serious income. Diversification Skype has already diversified its product onto many different platforms, from iPhones to landlines, but the market remains open to a VIOP for online console-based gaming, which opens a huge opportunity for Skype to fill the void. Microsoft’s console gaming system, Xbox, already has access to Netflix, Hulu Plus, and ESPN 3. Enabling Skype to function on the Xbox is yet another attempt to reduce the importance of landline phones. With the two entities combined, you “would literally be able to turn your TV and Xbox in to a landline phone on steroids” (Jarmon, 2011). Threats Competitors The competitors of Skype pose the biggest threat to the company. While many of the competitors
situation analysis are not as diversified as Skype, Google Plus is quickly gaining popularity and possesses a key feature to combat Skype: hangouts. These hangouts allow members of Google Plus to video chat with up to ten people at a time (Google). A notification is posted in friend’s news feed, and that friend can join the hangout simply by clicking on the link. This system rivals the likes of Skype largely in part because it is integrated, more directly than Skype is with Facebook, to a social networking site. Google Plus is growing at a staggering rate, and that should worry Skype. Reaching ten million users in 16 days is 53 times faster than Facebook (Aakar, 2011). The functionality of Google Plus and the integrated aspect of their video chat is superior to Skype. Oovoo, a more similar competitor to Skype than Google Plus, will soon allow 12-way video calling, allowing two more people than Skype currently does. Oovoo also allows free video chats for up to six people while Skype only allows individuals to video chat one on one. Oovoo possesses native video recording and messaging services, features that Skype has addressed through their various downloadable applications. Legal Issues Legal looming issues with Gradient Enterprises should be looked at as a threat for Skype. These limitations pose a financial threat to Skype because of potential legal battles. “Patent suits seem to be an inevitable part of doing business. Smart phones can't take a step in any direction without walking into a patent-related lawsuit.” (Gatto, 2010) This lawsuit places a threat for Skype’s supernode setup for VoIP (Gatto, 2010). The governmental limitations should not be overlooked as an additional issue that could cause a potential threat. China and India are two examples of governmental threats. According to IT Government, by Computerworld, India may put restrictions on Skype and Google. The Chinese government is preparing to take the lead in limiting the VoIP software that allows people to make calls through computer terminals. Skype has more strengths than anything else, and that certainly effects their market position. They should, however, be wary because the likes of Google Plus are looming in the close future. If Skype can continue to push their product to teachers and professors, link Skype with Xbox Live and Kinect, and practice responsible advertising, they will continue to grow as a company and successfully reach a target audience, such as college students.
qualitative analysis Objectives of Focus Group To ensure the findings are meaningful, students themselves will have a strong say. The focus group sought to address these main objectives: - Identifying why college students are not using Skype - Understanding students’ needs and how Skype fits in with those needs Roles The moderating group consisted of 5 people. Jordan Gurrentz was the moderator for the duration of the focus group. Kara Hargrove, Ashley Brocato, and Ashley Buenrostro actively took notes during the focus groups, posing questions when more information was needed. Jason Gladu took video and audio recordings of the focus group while taking notes as well. The Setting and Participant Information The study was held in a rectangular room inside the Perry-Castañeda Library, on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. Twelve participants, five female and seven male, took part in the focus group on October 19, 2011. The study lasted 60 minutes, starting at 6:15 pm. All participants are currently students at The University of Texas. Participants did not receive a monetary compensation, but a light dinner, consisting of pizza, cookies, and Coke was offered. Participants were seated around a rectangular table with the moderator sitting amongst them in a non-distinguishable fashion. The participants were selected using a convenience sample that was recruited on a volunteer basis through Facebook and other means of interaction amongst friends. No prescreening was done on the participants to ensure that they had no preconceived notions of Skype or the questions they would be asked during the focus group. Focus Group Findings Participant Profiles All participants are college-aged students as well as students at The University of Texas at Austin. They self-categorized themselves as computer users who spend “pretty much all day” on their computers.
qualitative analysis Current Perceptions of Skype To provide context for the rest of the discussion, participants were asked what they use Skype or a different VoIP for: six of the participants said they use it to talk to friends, eight said they use it to talk to family, and one said he uses it for business. Two of the participants said that they don’t characterize themselves as “Skype users.” Several perceptions of Skype emerged during the session: free, convenience, and connectivity. Each of these perceptions are discussed below. Free Service: A Main Driver Being free was the most notable positive perception about Skype. Many participants indicated that it being free was their main reason for trying and using Skype. There was general agreement among the group that Skype’s ability to offer their software at no cost was a redeeming quality; in fact it was the quality. The fact that Skype is free was a main driver that encouraged the participants to use Skype. Convenience One participant noted that, because Skype was the first VoIP software she used, she continues to use it. To some participants, Skype appeared to enjoy a first-mover advantage in the marketplace. However, several participants noted that their first experience with VoIP was with other programs, such as iChat. Many participants claimed that, because iChat was preinstalled on Mac computers, they decided to use iChat instead of installing another VoIP. One participant noted that using Skype would be a last resort, not because of technical difficulties per se, but rather because he was accustomed to using iChat. Likewise, many participants continued to use Skype rather than looking for VoIP alternatives simply because it was familiar and easy to use. One participant expressed the desire to have an easyto-use software that way, if she “wanted to skype with someone who has never done it before I don’t have to explain a long list” of things to do to get the conversation started. Many participants, those that use and do not use Skype, said they use whichever VoIP their friends are using. One participant expressed dismay over the fact that there are so many VoIPs out in the market and all of her friends seem to be using different ones. Those that do not use Skype seemed to agree, as quoted above, that the only way they use Skype is if someone could not chat with them via their preferred VoIP. It appears that there is a learning curve associated with VoIP use and participants
qualitative analysis use whichever program they are comfortable with and accustom to using. There also appears to be a fractionalization of the marketplace with many competitors offering services. This highly segmented market creates problems for those that have friends and family members on different services since these programs do not cross platforms. Connectivity While there were some differences about the main issues with Skype, connectivity seemed to be the main one. A few claimed that Skype is more difficult to use than other options, and that because it did not come pre-installed on their computers, they do not use it. They also said that it freezes a lot and that they frequently lose connection. A general consensus was reached in the group that connectivity is a main issue. One participant mentioned that it can often take a long time just to start chatting with someone over Skype because of issues with connectivity. This issue was one of the main reasons for general dismay toward Skype and not toward other software. The central issue of connectivity was the main cause for people abandoning Skype. Several participants viewed Skype as having too many hassles, making it undesirable compared to the other VoIP programs. Competitors Several participants claimed that they frequently had connection issues with Skype, causing them to prefer a different VoIP. The competitor that was mentioned the most during the focus group was iChat. Participants claimed that, because of the rare connection issues with iChat and the convenience of it, they prefer it over Skype. iChat comes pre-installed in Macs, so some of the participants preferred to use the VoIP that they already had on their computer. One of the participants said that they almost never have problems with iChat, but couldn’t say the same thing about Skype. The other competitors that participants mentioned were Oovoo and Google Plus, but they clearly weren’t used as often as Skype or iChat. iChat dominated the discussion, and the participants could recall the program by name, whereas the other competitors did not enjoy as good of brand recall: one participant said, “I use this thing called Oovoo. I think that is what it is called.” This indicates that Oovoo is a relevant competitor, but that it isn’t Skype’s greatest competition because it isn’t different enough than Skype or other VoIP programs. The convenience of iChat being pre-
qualitative analysis installed along with its consistence connection, made this a preferred service. Motivators for using a VoIP Relationships There was general agreement among the participants that the only reason they used Skype was to connect with friends. The majority of the group began to use Skype or another VoIP as soon as they left for college to reconnect with high school friends who are no longer nearby. One participant stated, “because you are going to be away from your friends more...you will have to reconnect with them so you will have to use video chat more.” In response, the next participant agreed, “Yeah, I feel like I started using it when I came to college because of the people I wasn’t living in the same city with anymore. I feel like, after college, that number is just going to increase.” Reasons Not to Use Skype Participants offered a myriad of reasons for not using Skype. From the conversation, it became evident that the competitors (iChat and Oovoo) were taking these participants away from Skype. One participant concluded, because he uses iChat, there is “almost no reason for me to use [Skype].” Another stated “the novelty wore off, now I just don’t care about video chat.” Aside from the competitors, one participant noted that she does not “have the time” to spend video chatting. Interpretation In this highly competitive marketplace, Skype needs to both capitalize on its strengths, and also address its weaknesses. As mentioned in the SWOT, a key aspect to reaching an important target audience, college students, is Skype’s ability to offer the product for free. Video chatting with one person, conference calling, and instant messaging are all free features that are used regularly (“About Skype” n.d.). Since many VoIP providers offer free service, Skype should continue to provide free services. Skype should also attempt to add new cutting edge features to differentiate it from the competitors. The VoIP market is pretty saturated, and many of Skype’s competitors are starting to offer very different and practical uses and applications. Knowing what the competitors are doing that catches the attention of Skype’s target audience is crucial when trying to understand how to better serve consumer needs. The ability to control someone else’s screen was a motivator for two participants in the focus group: should Skype employ such a feature, their business users might benefit more so than their college-aged users.
qualitative analysis Although Skype may have benefited from a “first to market” advantage, it is clear that the competition has caught up. For college students, it is important which program their friends use. In order to compete in this demographic, Skype has to give college students a reason to switch services. For these individuals to switch services, it would require their friends to also switch. Understanding the underlying reasons why people use VoIPs in the first place is a great asset when analyzing levels of Skype usage. Knowing how users connect with friends or family can help Skype make certain changes to make this communication easier and more effective. This can be done by increasing the usability of the likely functions that users will encounter, which will in turn hopefully motivate users of other VoIPs to switch to Skype. Connectivity was a major issue, which is important when considering the high expectations of 21st century computer users who want everything at a fast speed and in a crystal-clear picture. Recognizing this issue definitely helped identify a major contributing factor to the lack of Skype use. Should Skype be able to keep the dropped calls and frozen videos to a minimum, more students would be likely to use Skype. Hearing some participants say that they “don’t care about video chat” or that there is almost no reason to use it is a problem for Skype. It clearly shows that Skype is not meeting everyone’s needs effectively, which can be taken into consideration when evaluating what Skype needs to do to increase usage. Unfortunately, it seems the college-aged demographic has a limited need for Skype. Most of the friends that the participants had went to college with them, and thus required no Skype or VoIP usage. However, the post-college crowd, or young professionals, might be more prone to Skype use because they have likely moved away from their college friends, and more business people are beginning to use Skype. Research suggested that security is an issue with Skype (Greene, 2011). When asked about security issues, only one participant mentioned the threat of outsiders hacking cameras on computers. Our secondary research found that many universities are concerned with Skype’s bandwidth usage and the ability of Skype to use personal information without consent. This is different than what our focus group discovered, but this may be because participants might not have been aware of the issue.
qualitative analysis Research also suggested that Skype’s reach to young students, at the secondary school level and at the university level, would help them create solid contacts for future users (McEleny, 2011). Because many of the focus group participants said Skype was the first VoIP they used, and that is the reason they stuck with it, the research is validated by the focus group. However, contrary to prior research finding that Skype use on Oprah and CNN would increase Skype adoption (Winfrey 2009), many participants were not swayed by Skype’s sponsorship on cable TV networks and news stations. Many say the stunt was a ploy to win over viewers by sponsoring video chats. Participants seemed to nullify this attempt and disregarded the whole process of Skype sponsoring TV chats. Therefore, Skype’s participation on news stations does not adequately reach and convince college-aged students to use Skype. Educational purposes, such as holding TA and professor office hours, seemed to be an agreed potential use to increase Skype usage. The group found that it would save a lot of time and effort to be able to ask a couple of quick questions without having to walk all the way across campus to a tiny office. Also, knowing what Skype is doing right is just as important as knowing what they are doing wrong. That way, Skype can capitalize on their strengths to try and increase use among college students. The focus group provided critical information regarding college-aged students use of Skype and similar VoIP software. Many new strengths and weaknesses were brought to the forefront of the conversation, many of which were not noted previously. These new ideas were all crucial in identifying why only 24% of college-aged students use Skype.
quantitative research Concept Norms
Items Mean It is expected of me 2.42 that I use Skype to communicate with those close to me It is expected of me 2.94 that I use Skype when communicating with others who live far from wehre I do.
Median Mode St. Dev. Reliability 2 2 1.23 .85
It is expected of me that I use Skype to communicate with my friends and family when they are, or I am, in an international location. Skype is useful when communication with friends and family. Using a scale of 1-7, please indicate whether you feel that using Skype with your peers is helpful or unhelpful. 1=unhelpful 7=helpful On a scale of 1-7, with 1 being worthless and 7 valuable, how useful is Skype? I use Skype to talk to my friends. How often do you use Skype? In the course of this past month, how often have you used Skype?
quantitative research Skype Use
Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N
Skype Use 1.00 364
Behavioral .55 .00 358
Norms .61 .00 363
.55 .00 358
.53 .00 359
.61 .00 363
.53 .00 359
Sampling and Method Surveys were distributed with the intention of assessing and understanding how Skype could increase its usage among college students. A main reason for seeking to understand the problem better is because this demographic is already utilizing many social media outlets and is tech savvy, yet only 24% currently use Skype (Mintel, 2011). The survey set out to investigate why people used Skype, how they felt about Skype, and how often, if at all, they used Skype. We distributed our survey to respondents via Facebook and email in order to maximize reach, frequency, and the likelihood the survey would be completed. The Qualtrics link was sent out through personalized messages to each recipient. The survey was open for three days, Friday November 11 to Sunday November 13, 2011. Overall 470 people, college students from the University of Texas at Austin, began taking the survey but only 364, or 77.5%, completed the survey. Of those, 34% were male and 66% were female. This could largely be influenced by the majority people in the Advertising 344K: Advertising Research class are female, and thus reached out to their female friends to take the survey. The concepts of Norms and Behavioral Beliefs are proven to be reliable, with face validity and construct validity, by Icek Ajzen (2002) in Constructing a TpB Questionnaire:Conceptual and Methodological Considerations. Furthermore, the concept of Skype Use has been measured and is valid based on surveys conducted by Pew Internet Research. â€œBehavioral beliefs produce a
quantitative research favorable or unfavorable attitude toward the behavior,” and based on that, we hypothesized that, as a college student perceives his or her distance from friends and family increasing, he or she will be expected to use Skype (Ajzen, 2002). Because “normative beliefs result in perceived social pressure or subjective norm,” we hypothesized that Skype’s perceived ease of use will positively correlate with number of new users who intend to use Skype (Ajzen, 2002). The research exhibits concurrent validity. Pew indicated that 24% of people used Skype regularly or occasionally. In fact, 22% of this survey’s respondents said they used Skype regularly or occasionally, which has been derived by adding those who answered that they used Skype everyday, every other day, and once or twice a week. The results to the survey are weak in external validity because they are not generalizable to a larger population outside of college students. This is because the sample drawn for the survey was not random, it was drawn from previous friendships of the research team. There is split halves reliability which is proven by the high, strong scores the concepts received on Cronbach’s alpha scale. Data Analysis After conducting some research, we concluded that college students feel the need to use Skype because their friends and family use Skype. Our first index measures the norms people have relating to the social pressures felt pushing them to use Skype. We obtained a reliability of .85 for this index, which is very favorable. The means in this index range from 2.42 to 3.24 with three questions that were all measured on a five-point Likert scale, so all the items are relatively similar to each other. The question “It is expected of me that I use Skype to communicate with those close to me,” has a mean of 2.42, which is lower than the other questions in the index. However, this question substantiates our hypothesis that as a college student perceives his or her distance from friends and family increasing, the more he or she will be expected to use Skype. This question is problematic because the term “close” could be confusing for participants. It is unclear whether the term means close in personal relationship or in distance. If the participants took the word to mean distance, the data substantiates our hypothesis. The means overall further substantiate our hypothesis because, as the questions ask distance related questions--the first one is “close,” the second is “far,” and the third is “international”--the mean becomes greater, 2.42, 2.94, and 3.42, respectively. Overall, this suggests that, as the participants get farther from friends and family, the more apt they are to use Skype.
quantitative research Our second index measures peoples’ behavioral beliefs and the attitudes they formed about Skype. For this index, we had a reliability of .8, which is also very good for this threshold. Similar to the means in the first index, the means measuring this concept are relatively similar. The majority of respondents said Skype was somewhere between not sure and somewhat helpful. Data suggests the participants felt Skype was useful for communicating with friends and family, with a mean of 4.02 out of 5. However, the other questions scored 4.69 and 4.92 out of 7, which indicates they did not feel Skype was as useful for communicating with peers or as valuable. Our third and final index measures peoples’ current Skype usage patterns. We also had a very favorable reliability for this index at .82. The mean for the third item (“In the course of this past month, how often have you used Skype?”) is a little bit lower than the means of the first two items. This could partly be explained by how this and the second item are both measured on a six-point scale while the first item is measured on a five-point scale. Also, each item is being measured using different variables. The first item asks people the extent to which they agree or disagree with a certain statement while the second and third items measure the amount of time people have spent using Skype. Because of these differences, the means are relatively similar when being compared to each other. We ran correlations between Skype use and attitudes because we felt that persons having a positive attitude towards Skype could determine the usage of Skype. In our focus group, participants who did not use Skype regularly or chose a competitor over Skype did so because they had a bad experience, or a negative attitude toward Skype. With this insight, we expected there to be a strong positive correlation between the two variables. There is a moderate but still a positive, significant correlation between Skype use and attitude variables ( r=.55, p<.01). We also chose to look at the correlations between norms, perceptions that influential people expect others to perform specific actions, and Skype use to see if a relationship between the two variables was strong. In our focus group, many participants used Skype solely because their friends or family used Skype. As we predicted, the correlation between the two variables is significant, positive, and strong ( r=.61, p<.01). These results affirm our hypothesis as a college student perceives his or her distance from friends and family increasing, they will be more he or she will be expected to use Skype.
quantitative research The last correlation we decided to run was between attitudes and norms. The correlation between the two variables is significant, positive, and moderate relationship between the variable (r=.53, p<.01). This relationship indicates that a personâ€™s attitudes about Skypeâ€™s effectiveness and usefulness, or lack thereof, does reflect upon their norms or feelings of expectations towards Skype use.
Recommendations Through our extensive research we have come across some very significant findings among college student’s usage of Skype and have formed some recommendations for future campaigns. Improving positive impressions and attitudes of Skype. In our data analysis we found that Skype use and attitudes have a positive, significant correlation. As a result, we recommend that Skype work extensively to ensure that users have a favorable experience while using it. This includes providing better connectivity within calls, easy-to-use features, and providing numerous ways to use this convenient method of communication. Participants voiced concern with Skype during the focus group saying, “I usually get disconnected” or “I had to switch [carriers] because Skype kept messing up.” These less than favorable attitudes are the ones Skype has to work actively to change. In addition, Skype should portray and promote itself as an exciting and useful program within their marketing efforts. These factors will instill a positive attitude towards Skype into the minds of potential users, and therefore increase Skype use. We hypothesized that exposure of Skype through entertainment mediums will lead to an increase in users’ intention to use Skype. Seeing Skype being used effectively on shows like Oprah will definitely shed a complimentary light on the software, and in turn create even more positive attitudes towards Skype. Increasing usage among family and friends. The key factor in converting non-Skype users is getting their friends and family to use it. The majority of college students are attending a school away from their hometown. Our survey found that, on average, college students use Skype to communicate with friends and family, which substantiates the rationale to target the core family in order to increase college student usage. If parents are made aware of Skype and ask their college-student children to use it, they will be more inclined to download and try it. The same idea applies to the friends of college-age students. If students know that their friends are using Skype, than they will be more likely to use it too. Using traditional advertising would be an effective approach to target parents of college students. Relying solely on word-of-mouth advertising isn’t the most effective way to drastically increase usage because the number of competitors in the field is high. Using only word-of-mouth can take a while to spread the brand’s name, which gives competitors the chance to steal business from Skype.
Recommendations Differentiating Skype from competitors. Our focus group clearly identified the issue Skype faces with the countless competitors on the market. Skype’s team definitely needs to focus on continuing to upgrade their software with cuttingedge features in order to distinguish itself from competitors. We found that iChat is one of the leading competitors due to the fact that it comes preloaded on Mac computers. The participants that used iChat as their main VoIP said “I have a Mac, so I use iChat.” This points to the suggestion that Skype ought to take advantage of their new ownership and come preloaded on Microsoft systems in order to maximize usage. The potential to include Skype in other Microsoft entities, such as Xbox Live and Microsoft Outlook, would differentiate Skype from its competitors and add another avenue for consumers to use their product and services.
future research and limitations Future Research Skype is clearly one of the most popular online video-communication tools in modern society. Many colleges, television programs, and regular people utilize it for various reasons. People may be using Skype for class, interviews, everyday conversations, or for many other reasons. With Skype’s increasing popularity, we recommend conducting further research in multiple areas. We ran correlations between Skype use and attitudes because we thought that having better attitudes toward Skype would be a strong influencer of a person’s usage of it. However, these two variables only had a moderate, positive, significant correlation when we thought it would be stronger. Further research could be conducted to investigate what influences peoples’ attitudes most about Skype. Studies could be done to see if things like connectivity issues, various features of the program, or video quality affect peoples’ attitudes the most, and in turn, influence their Skype usage. We also ran correlations between norms and Skype use, which resulted in a significant, strong, and positive relationship. This is what we expected. To further investigate this relationship, research could be done to see what kind of people are considered to be the most influential. For example, are parents more influential than good friends or siblings when it comes to Skype use? Obviously, no two people share the exact same kind of relationship with their family or friends, but there are still new variables that can be investigated here. The last correlation we ran was between attitudes about Skype and norms. This resulted in a significant, positive and moderate correlation, which means that a person’s attitude about Skype does not reflect upon their feelings of expectations towards Skype use. To further investigate this relationship, research can be done to see if influential people can change peoples’ attitudes about Skype. For example, if someone’s best friend has a good attitude about Skype’s effectiveness or usefulness, will it impact his or her attitudes about it? Limitations There were several limitations that we encountered throughout our research. These limitations occurred mainly as a result of who we were able to sample from our target population: college students.
future research and limitations When selecting our sample, we used an availability sampling method. We chose who to give our surveys to, and found participants for our focus groups, by asking our friends to participate. This was because they were easy to contact and/or work with. Since we are all students at the University of Texas, we have a lot of friends who are also students here, and in turn, used only UT students for the focus group, and mostly UT students for the survey. Skype usage among students at the University of Texas might be different than Skype usage at other colleges. Because of this, our sample isnâ€™t an accurate representation of all college students. Also, since everyone in our class are advertising and public relations majors, we are more likely to have a lot of friends in the same major or in another major in the School of Communications. Since most of the people we asked to participate in our research are friends of ours, we might have had more advertising majors (or people in other communications majors) participate in our research than people in majors outside the School of Communications. Different majors might require students to use Skype (for example, Advertising majors are required to use Skype for this class), which could, in turn, affect their usage of the program. Because of this, not all majors are represented fairly, which again limits the generalizability of our research to all college students. Another limitation related to how we chose our sample is that we had to reach out to people to ask them to participate, instead of letting them volunteer. Friends might have similar Skype usage patterns. Since we asked friends to participate in our research, we might have chosen people to participate who have similar usage patterns as us to participate. Because of this, it is hard to generalize our results to other college students. Had our participants been random, or had they volunteered to participate, or results would be more generalizable about all college students.
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Appendix a: survey code
Appendix a: survey code
Appendix a: survey code
Appendix a: survey code