To be fair, Manjoo prefaces his article with this:
Skype isn’t new—it launched in 2003*, and millions of people around the world use it. But because Skype is so unbelievably cheap, I’ve run across lots of people who still consider it some kind of Internet dark art—a service with mysterious inner workings, one that requires some kind of special equipment or technical know-how to get it up and running.
Incidentally, Manjoo’s reasoning for why his article is timely now complements my argument for why it’s not. Slate‘s tech crew has taken to writing about facets of Online culture only after they’ve grown too big to ignore. Someone could’ve written the Skype how-to piece two years ago and made the same argument—the technology really hasn’t changed that much—and it would have been compelling and edgy. “Give up my landline? But it’s only 2006!” And there’s a good chance that Slate’s how-to piece would’ve been one of a few (published today, however, it’s but one of many, many really fine articles and posts about the usefulness and ease-of-use of Skype).
I’ve no quotes to back it up, but I suspect that its behind-the-curve tech writing reflects Slate’s perception of an aging (or aged?) audience. Technophiles and/or general Online readers looking for cutting edge tech writing from a mainstream outlet are more likely to get their goods from Wired.