Skype for businesses

Through the Skype Forum, i discovered that full time USA graduate student Charmaine Walker, who will soon become a school librarian, just completed a paper on Emerging Technologies and chose Skype as her topic. She says on the forum: “I have been a user since its inception in 2003 and think it is truly marvellous”.

I picked some interesting phrases out of her 9 pages work, which could convince businesses to use Skype (some minor editing by myself):
  • install the program where and when needed on as many computers at no cost;
  • as the equipment is owned, it eliminates the need for another company to maintain and upgrade an existing VoIP tool;
  • as Skype is simply a software program, it does not have any operational, maintenance, or management expenses;
  • there are no early termination fees associated with a VoIP provider contract if it no longer meets the business’s needs;
  • businesses can simply uninstall the Skype program without incurring a penalty and/or returning another company’s equipment;
  • aside from the expense of a microphone and speakers or handset to make and receive calls, Skype’s optional extras are extremely low in comparison to other VoIP providers.
Valid arguments for small businesses (my opinion!).


Encryption = no wiretapping?

Quite a lot of Police corpses, CIA, FBI, KGB and others are worried about the encrypted calls that Skype users can place: no possibility to wiretap Osama Bin Laden or Georges Bush when they call to each other through Skype!

There were even voices (official and non-official) asking for a "back door" in Skype!

Recently the German Police made some comments on Skype, but didn’t say they would ask for a back door: We can't decipher it. That's why we're talking about source telecommunication surveillance - that is, getting to the source before encryption or after it's been decrypted.

Indeed, Skype and other new communication techniques are challenging the creativity of those who want to monitor conversations.

But "creative wiretapping" already happened, and German Police was indirectly involved:
Fourth suspect Rudy Hermann Guede allegedly spoke (through Skype) to a friend who, unknown to him, was inside a Perugia police station.The suspect appeared to be hiding in Germany! In fact, Police asked a friend of the suspect to try to reach him by Skype, and wiretapped him … indeed “after decryption”!



51 million Skypers in China

I read the following: China becomes Skype's biggest market with 51 mln users, yet to make profit.

As usual, let me correct this statement: they mean “registered user names”, not "registered users", and this isn't equal to "active users".

Like i do usually, let us assume the numbers are however correct, this would mean that:
  • 20 % of the active Worldwide Skypers are from China
  • 3.9 % of the population of China are Skypers
  • 5.4 % of the “active” population of China are Skypers (discounting people older than 65 years, and younger than 14 years) [EDITED ON 25/11: The number in red was edited, as i made an error in my calculation]
  • 34 % of Chinese internet users are Skypers
Bear in mind that the second, third and fourth numbers above are very exaggerated. Reasons are:
  • lost password, and therefore inaccessible user name, therefore the need to create a new user name
  • testing Skype, and abandoned use of the user name
  • spare user names, registered for alternative or future use (i have several!)
  • the owner of the user name died (yes, this also happens!)
  • the person switched to another VoIP tool
  • the person registered a temporary name for a temporary past situation
  • spammers also register multiple usernames to "attack" their victims
So, like always, this 51 million users statement is marketing exaggeration!


avoid Skype Pro

I have complained several times about the fraudulent SkypePro advertising in the past.

Tony Austin, has posted a long but interesting explanation with the following title in ITWire: “1300 reasons to avoid Skype Pro in Australia”.

He begins his explanation with the phrase:
There are examples all around us of misleading and deceptive advertising, inflicted upon us either deliberately or due to the lack of attention to detail or even the incompetence of the advertisers. Where does Skype Pro stand in this regard?

And ends with:
Skype needs to change its Skype Pro documentation to read something like: "Pay nothing per minute for calls to landlines within the same country -- except for certain classes of landlines for which we'll charge the SkypeOut rate and not the Skype Pro rate and this will cost you much much more than nothing per minute!"

I have to agree 100% with Tony!
And Skype can't say they are not aware: the regular questions concerning the SkypePro costs on the Skype Forum don't go unnoticed by Skype Staff.

How much money is Skype taking from customers in Australia, Brazil and a lot of other countries with this misleading SkypePro advertising?


Skype contribution

I got a very interesting comment of Sascha Vitzthum on a previous post, and i distilled the following graph out of it:
According to eBay …
"Direct contribution consists of net revenues from external customers less direct costs. Direct costs include specific costs of net revenues, sales and marketing expenses, and general and administrative expenses over which segment managers have direct discretionary control, such as advertising and marketing programs, customer support expenses, bank charges, site operations expenses, product development expenses, billing operations, certain technology and facilities expenses, transaction expenses, provisions for doubtful accounts, authorized credits and transaction losses. Segment managers do not have discretionary control over expenses such as our corporate center costs …"

This means Skype had a 15% contribution compared to revenue in the last quarter. This is quite OK. From the graph we also see that 2007 will be probably the first year that Skype contributes really to eBay’s profitability.


Skypers on Map

Through the blog of Jan, i found the following two graphs on the Japanese “Skypers on Map” website.
Skype Online Users
This one displays the same information as the other Japanese website Nyanyan but instead of one week, a whole month! (Click on the image to have the full view).

SKMap Status summary
And this one displays the status of the Skype users who registered on SKMap!

Both graphs are very interesting, although the scale of the first one is not optimized.

The second one is generated by using the data of Skype Users who accepted to show their Skype status on a Google Earth map (almost 1000 right now!).

Quite interesting. Add your Skype status here on http://skmap.gatagata.jp and click on the "how to" link in the upper left corner for instructions! Fun!


Borderless Communication

My Skype friend Hudson Barton blogs again! Hurrah! See his interesting graph on Skype concurrent users online by continent! Based on his personal calculation.
His blog is called Borderless Communication.
In fact a very appropriate title for a Skype blog:
  • Skype originated in Europe but …
  • My first contact was my Brazilian brother in law Cassio;
  • From the beginning on Skype was multilingual, there are 29 different languages for the Skype client and you can even edit your language file to your local slang, or create a new one!
  • Skype users are everywhere, just look at the different nationalities that visit my blog;
  • There is SkypeIn in 19 different countries on 4 different continents;
  • Skype belongs now to eBay (USA), has it official registered office in Luxemburg (for tax reasons), its marketing and commercial people mainly in the UK, but also elsewhere, and – last but not least – the technical staff mainly in Estonia;
  • Even on the Skype Forums there are now subforums in 5 different languages;
  • I keep in contact through Skype with people i know (people i met personally at least once!) living in Belgium (of course), and 20 other countries on all continents (i was myself surprised by this number)!
  • I keep in contact with friends and colleagues travelling abroad for business or holidays;
  • I used myself Skype when travelling abroad in at least 6 countries to communicate with family or professional contacts;
  • And, last but not least, i keep in contact with a lot of Skype Crazy Fanaticals (Bloggers, Forum (Super) Users, Beta Testers, and Staff) like Hudson Barton!


a real useful obsession ;-)

Quite some bloggers copied and made comments on my post “+2.5 % this week” of October 27, and …
I got a very nice compliment from Russell Shaw at ZDNet: “Jean has this real serious but frankly, real useful obsession. He runs the Skype Numerology blog, a resource dedicated to the evolving and statistically quantifiable aspects of Skype’s download, usage, and related metrics over time.

Now, Russell thinks that the 2.5% in one week is “natural growth of the Skype user base”, and therefore not linked to the MySpace deal. Let me try to explain why i really think “something” is happening.

When you look at the inserted table, you will notice that it is the first time in 4 years that the growth of concurrent users online has been higher in October than in September! But there is more …
The download speed in October had a mean value of 890 downloads per minute, double as high as September (425 downloads/min.).

As my Blogger-friend onlyebay remarked, “It could be all the free publicity that Skype is getting”. Here the HUGE list of October events:
Did i forget something? Anyway, enough events to wake up sleeping potential customers!