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[liberationtech] Skype redux

Nadim Kobeissi nadim at
Sun Dec 23 13:40:55 PST 2012

I think Moxie hit the nail on the head especially with the two trends he
pointed out. A team of three developers can leverage global low-latency
infrastructure if they know how, while WhatsApp's entire engineering team
is stuck implementing *unusually* bad crypto.


On Sun, Dec 23, 2012 at 11:29 PM, Moxie Marlinspike
<moxie at>wrote:

> On 12/22/2012 04:49 AM, Brian Conley wrote:
> > That said, thus far, neither redphone nor those over listed rivals skype
> > or Google hangouts quality of transmission.
> Depends.  RedPhone's audio quality is (in general) substantially better
> on Android than Skype's has been.  Skype's desktop audio quality is
> probably better than RedPhone's, however.
> I see this more as a desktop vs. android thing rather than a skype vs.
> redphone thing.  Low-latency audio on Android is just hard, particularly
> over mobile data networks.  It is true, however, that Skype has a much
> larger engineering team than we do.
> I like to think that RedPhone is getting better all the time, but if
> this is something that you or anyone on this list is interested in, we'd
> obviously welcome help improving things in any way that you can
> contribute.  Please don't be shy about filing issues in the GitHub issue
> tracker for the project, even if they are user experience type things
> rather than strictly bugs.  We need the feedback.
> > This is not meant to detract from them, its more a question, is a
> > revenue based model the only option to ensure high enough quality to
> > attract users and grow?
> I agree that it's a problem.  I've pointed out before that user
> expectations for these types of apps are set by things like WhatsApp,
> which is an entire company focused *just* on a single chat app, with an
> engineering team that is larger than the number of developers in the
> whole "privacy enhancing technology" community put together.
> I think there are at least a couple of trends working in our favor though:
> 1) Mobile apps are a huge opportunity for us.  It's difficult to do much
> in the security/privacy area strictly within the browser, and the
> barrier to installing native desktop apps is high enough that you need
> something like the network effect of skype to make it happen.  The
> barrier to having users install mobile apps is much lower, and what we
> can do within that framework is much greater.
> 2) Infrastructure continues to get easier to deploy, manage, and scale.
>  As depressing as it is that there are companies developing insecure
> communication tools with engineering teams larger than our entire
> community, there are also examples of very small teams that have done
> some really highly scalable stuff.  The engineering team at Instagram,
> for instance, was quite small.  They were able to leverage AWS to scale
> up without many problems, while focusing most of their effort on user
> experience and core features.  Right now RedPhone has a global set of
> POPs deployed that offer less than 100ms RTT to a relay from almost
> anywhere in the world, and we don't have a dedicated infrastructure
> team.  That would have been really hard to do in the past.
> - moxie
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