Oprah gives Skype the Twitter treatment today: Will it help or hurt?

Oprah Winfrey, who has already been using Skype to interview guests who can't make it to her studio, is focusing her entire show today on Skype's phone service.

"Where the Skype Are You?" is the title of today's program. She'll speak to guests from various locations, including the North Pole, inside a submarine and aboard a flying plane, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This uber (even for Oprah) Skype-hype begs the question: Does her blessing of Skype help it become a household product or does it ignite a backlash that its fans will equate with the service jumping the shark?

Certainly Skype, which has legions of fans --- 400 million worldwide -- has its technical problems, which are often visible on Oprah's show. She uses Skype to call guests, as she did the day she joined Twitter and gave Ashton Kutcher the opportunity to brag on air about how he beat CNN by being the first Twitter member to score one million followers.

Oprah sent her first Tweet and got all giddy when she was Tweeted back from Shaq, who gently told her to turn off her caps lock key. Ellen DeGeneres also Tweeted in return.

Hopefully Oprah will turn down the giddy and turn on her inner Mike Wallace and ask Skype president Josh Silverman about the glitches in his company's service when he is interviewed today on her show. Attempts to contact Silverman through Twitter and via his head of communications by DailyFinance were not returned prior to publication.

There has been some backlash against Twitter since Oprah's show. Many newbies in the media are writing about how they think Twitter is useless while some veterans to the service now say it's becoming too popular to be considered cool any longer. The main criticism of Twitter is that folks join, but don't stick around as users very long.

More people will undoubtedly try Skype after today's Oprah show. Most of them will not turn into long-time users if they find it to be difficult or buggy to use.

That said, Winfrey has a solid track record of endorsing not just books, but technology products as well. She
named Research in Motion's (RIMM) blackberry as one of her "favorite things" in 2003 and did a show on YouTube in 2007.

So Skype, which is owned by eBay (EBAY), will no doubt benefit near-term from its day in Oprah's sun today. The question is whether it will lead to greater long-term adoption of the service.

EBay has promised another big day for Skype next year when the company is spun out in a public offering. We'll soon find out if Oprah's blessing provides the momentum it needs to reach that landmark, or if it sparks a backlash that causes Skype to stall.

Anthony Massucci is a senior writer for DailyFinance. You may follow him on Twitter at hianthony.

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