Summer or Final Recession?

I noticed that last night the concurrent users online went below 4 million. Quite normal "night dip" for a Saturday to Sunday night, but hasn't been that low since a long time. This is also an indication that we are entering a summer slowdown, see my explanation on this phenomenon in my post of September last year.

Skype growth is however clearly slowing down!
  • We will not reach 10 million concurrent users online before September (my guess), and then it will have been more than 200 days to acquire one additional million. The only time it lasted longer was for the acquisition of the first million concurrent users online: it took 418 days!
  • In 2006, Skype grew with 3.84 million concurrent users online (at peak time). Now in the first 6 months of 2007 we only have added 1.22 million users (see the table below)!
So what? Has Skype really reached some “saturation level”?


Classes through Skype

Blogger Mark O’Neil writes an interesting story how Skype can help him to give classes in the English language to people around the world and how he can get a fee for this. Read the story here. Not new, other people already blogged on this, but interesting to read the advantages of it!

And his question how to share a PowerPoint presentation online with the student in real-time has also an answer: UNYTE.


How many Skype users?

Through SkypeJournal i downloaded the presentation of Lester Madden, the Skype Platform Manager.

I found an interesting number: they claim they have 196 million users.

This is a false statement as i explained in the past in SkypeJournal in “How many users does Skype have today?. They should replace the word Users by User Names or Skype Accounts.

I will repeat my statements of that article … some Skype names are not used at all for any of the following reasons (non exclusive list)::
  • lost passwords, and therefore inaccessible username
  • tests, and abandoned use of the name
  • spare usernames, registered for future use (I have several!)
  • the owner of the username died (yes, this also happens!)
  • the person switched to another VoIP tool
  • the person registered a temporary name for a temporary past situation.
Here my updated table, with the number provided by Lester Madden (rounded numbers).One interesting fact however: each 3 downloads generates one new username. Perhaps we can say, out of 3 downloads, two are upgrades, one is a new POTENTIAL user. Compared to last year, this hasn’t changed significantly.


My guess: Less than 50 million!


I got blogtagged

I got blogtagged by Ike then by Jörg!
OK, here i go ...
  1. In 1981, after graduating as an Engineer, my father gave me a “reward” of 10.000 Belgian franks (€ 250 – but with inflation this is probably more than € 500 now) and i went on my own to Iceland with my rucksack, sleeping bag, a stove, my tent … very beautiful country, lovely people. And … i met an Australian guy there, and we travelled, hiked and camped a week together. This guy had been travelling for 3 years without interruption mainly in Asia and Europe. I thought: WOW!
  2. In 1983, after working as a researcher at the University, i took my rucksack, bought a one-way ticket to Lima, Peru, and started my “World Tour”, hereby copying the idea of my Australian friend, with whom i kept contact. No internet, no Skype, therefore i phoned about monthly to my parents. In the local phone companies i had to ask how much the call would cost, estimate how many minutes (and dollars) i wanted to spend, pay before calling (like Skype!), wait for the operator to make the connection with my parents, and then we talked x minutes until my credit was gone. I took my time, and visited Peru, Bolivia, Chile (Pinochet was still there), Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay (In Asunción i played chess during one month with an American guy) and Brasil. I even crossed the border between Paraguay and Bolivia with smugglers, for my second visit to that country (and climbed a 6000 m mountain with Israeli friends). I stopped travelling after one and a half year after meeting my future Brazilian (and now almost former) wife on a beach! My trip didn’t last as long as the Australian friend however. But, it still is the best and most enriching period of my life!
  3. I’ve lived and worked as an expat in Ecuador (1987-1990), where two of my 3 sons were born, and also in Tunisia (1992-1995): without internet, long before the Skype era, so phone calls were expensive. I remember they installed next to their TELEX machine their first FAX machine at the factory shortly after i arrived in Ecuador in 1987: WOW, we could send a handwritten message or a drawing! My best Ecuadorian friend (Carlos) and my best Tunisian colleague (Adel) are now in my Skype contacts.
  4. Yes, I smoke, quitting for several days, weeks or

    months and starting again. Not good for my health and with negative consequences on my sport, i know. I drink alcohol too (mainly wine and beer, sometimes cachaça, when i have it), and i eat everything that other people dare to eat, even poisonous Finnish mushrooms when prepared correctly.
  5. If nothing “wrong” happens in the meantime, in July i’ll go hiking and camping in the Swiss Alps with my Friend Fabio … the Australian guy: we made the appointment through Skype!
Now, whom to tag? Difficult, most people i know have been tagged. I will however also tag somebody who was tagged also by another person, but perhaps this will "awake" his blog. Here they are: Mark O'Neil, Kevin Delaney, Jan Geirnaert, Hudson Barton, Johan


Call forwarding = € or $

You can forward your Skype calls when you are offline or away. And ... it can be completely free! Continue reading ...
Follow the next steps in the Skype client:
It says “You will need $$$$ to forward calls”?

If you click further … -> CALL FORWARDING OPTIONSIt says now “enter phone number” and “you need to purchase Skype credit

This is NOT true! Skype forgets to mention that you can also forward calls to another Skype account, and this is COMPLETELY FREE! Just put the Skype account name in the field where you would put a telephone number!

What is this good for? Two - among many other - possibilities:
  • you have a computer downstairs and another upstairs, each running different accounts; you can forward calls from one computer to another.
  • you have a Skype account at work and another at home. You could forward your home calls to your work account.
I think Skype should change the messages in the Skype client: “You can forward calls to phone numbers, voicemails or other Skype accounts”!


SMS setup = €

Some days ago Skype warned me that on one of my spare accounts my Skype Credit balance would expire (because i didn't use it for almost 6 months).

I had some 13 € cents left, and i had an SMS to send to one of my sons, so i thought: “ok, lets spend the money to that”. But i wanted my son to “identify me by my mobile number”! Therefore I had to go through the following steps in the Skype client:

TOOLS -> OPTIONS -> CHATS & SMS -> SMS SETTINGS -> VERIFY YOUR MOBILE NUMBER -> “enter your mobile number” -> "wait for a code send to you by SMS" -> "enter the code" -> READY

This worked as a charm, within seconds i received the code! Great!

Then i went to the SMS window of the Skype client, prepared the SMS and pushed on the button SEND and ...This was strange: € 0.13 credit left, the message costs € 0.106 to send and message not sent because “not enough credit left”. I looked twice, then a third time, tried to understand, tried again to send the SMS, etc. NO WAY!

Then after some minutes i indeed saw that my credit had gone down to € 0.02. I signed in to my account page to check if the SMS to my son had been charged for, and then i understood:The mobile number showed here is my own mobile number. Skype charged me the price of an SMS for sending me the “code”. And indeed, it is announced in the set-up window that i would be charged the standard price for an SMS, but i didn’t notice it! Therefore my fault!

But anyway: some improvement work for Skype! The update of the credit left is too slow compared to the speed of spending the money!


Update Skype Forum Growth

The number of usernames registered on the Skype Forum is still increasing, as can be seen on the graph below, but less fast in my opinion.

Good? Or bad? Difficult to say. Indeed quite some people reach the forum because they have some problems (technical, payment, spam, developer stuff, …). And slowing growth could mean less bugs in Skype. On the other hand the concurrent users online isn’t growing that fast anymore, so this could be another reason.

Not all visitors come to the forum with problems: there are also some interesting discussions going on on wanted features, evolution of Skype, competing products, contests, etc.

There are subsections in other languages (Japanese, Italian, German and Spanish). Although i know that not everybody speaks English, i somehow deplore that there are subsections. It has always been allowed to post in your own language on the forum, so why create subsections? It is probably easier for the forum moderators.

Let us convert the graph above in registered usernames per day …

The red dots (and curve) represents the mean new usernames per day on a monthly basis. In May 2007 (last month) 337 new users were added per day. There were some higher peaks (in January almost 400 new users per day).

The blue lines (and peaks) are some intermediary data that i calculated. As explained in a previous post (see here) most of the blue peaks were due to SpamBots.

Conclusion: Forum users are still increasing, although, in my opinion there is a clear slowdown, probably due to the slower growth of Skype users.