1 billion downloads …

Today is the Birthday of my oldest son, 22 years. But also today, at about 9h17 GMT, Skype reached the phenomenal number of 1 billion downloads.

Congratulations Stefan and congratulations Skype !!!
Some comments about this number:
  • This means about 2.8 downloads for each registered username;
  • The current mean download speed is about 500 downloads/minute;
  • In the past there were short periods where the mean download speed was much higher than 1500 / minute;
  • The last two years the speed of downloads was mainly linear (see the light blue straight line);
  • A download doesn’t necessarily mean a "new user", as “old users” also download Skype on “new or other computers” and when Skype releases “new client versions”;
  • And last but not least, Skype belongs to the top ten most downloaded applications ever.
[EDITED]Hehe, Skype was also very aware of the 1 billion, because Josh Silverman blogged on it also some minutes after reaching that milestone, but I think I was first: I posted at 9h26 GMT, and he posted on 9h35 GMT! ;-)


About growth speed

Each time that I pretend that the growth of Skype isn’t exponential, but linear or even slowing down, fellow blogger Hudson Barton tries to refute it. See his comment on my last post for instance (yes, aaytch, is Hudson himself)!

Perhaps I was a bit too fast and too rude to answer (I apologize for this), because indeed the last 12 months were much better, than the previous 12 months. But anyway, let me analyse the table to the left, to explain why I still feel I am right. The table shows the top or record concurrent users online at several dates in the past.

The third column is the mean daily (rounded) number of additional concurrent users online at “peak time” for a certain time span. For instance:
  • The last two weeks (before September 22), the mean increase was 35000 additional concurrent users online.
  • The last year it was 9800 additional concurrent users online.
  • And so on.
How do we predict the future? Based on the last two weeks (+35000)? Or on the last 6 months (only +5300!), or on the last year? We can’t predict the future of course, we only can make guesses.

Choosing periods smaller than a year is often wrong for predicting long term growth. Changes in speed in smaller periods can however teach us something about temporary effects (the success of the launch of new Skype features, or the seasonal “Northern Hemisphere summer” effect).

For the long term past growth, we the see that the 2007-2008 season (+9800 users/per day) was very much better than the previous season (+6500). Does this mean that the growth is much faster? Is Hudson right? Could be, but in my opinion, the season 2006-2007 (+6500) was a very bad one compared with the two previous ones (+8300 and +10000), and last year (+9800) was just catching up again.

Only the future will tell, and some signs are very promising: Asterisk, Client version 4.0 (a new beta version will be released very soon), Skype for iPhone, perhaps even multiparty videoconferencing, …


Fall-Winter-Summer growth

As usual after a Northern Hemisphere Summer, the growth of Skype users is again visible. Not that there is no growth in summer, but, less people are working, more people switch their computers off while they are in the garden, or they are traveling and have less access to internet. Therefore, fewer users are online at the same time.

Those summers are very visible on the "million milestones" graph that I published last week. In all the past years, excluding the first year, the dots representing the "million milestones" are quite close to each other (see the brown left braces), except when there is a July-August period in the middle (see the red "summer" arrows).So, what for 2008-2009? I would guess that Skype will as usual add two more "million dots' to its graph before July 2009 (see the Sky(pe) Blue extrapolated dots), going well over the 15 million people online. And I predict also that Skype will reach 16 million concurrent users somewhere around September 2009. But it is only a guess :-)


13 million – congratulations Skype!

So, today, another million mark was reached: 13 million concurrent users online.
After a very strong start in 2008, where two million marks were reached in a very short time span, we had to wait 210 days for the next million. This was the third longest period we had to wait for a million mark. This also means there is still a good and steady growth of Skype users, and it also means most of them are satisfied with the services offered.
But the growth isn't exponential anymore. The graph seems to show a small downward bending tendency.
I hope some innovations will cheer us up in the near future: a genuine Skype client for the iPhone for instance!

And perhaps another side comment: until right now, almost nobody blogged about these 13 million. It therefore seems to be a no-event!


Alzheimer or a Skype mistake?

Yesterday i received the following e-mail from Skype:
Your credit balance has expired. 
=== What are the rules for credit expiry? ===
  1. credit expires 180 days after your last purchase or action that used credit.
  2. Each purchase, call or SMS message resets the expiry time to 180 days.
  3. Unfortunately, if you don't use your remaining credit the balance will expire to comply with normal business accounting rules.
  4. You will receive reminder emails 30 days, 7 days and 72 hours before your credit expires.
I don’t contest the rules, although I don’t think the “to comply with normal business accounting rules” is a mandatory rule, and it isn’t a very customer-friendly rule anyway. Lucky for me that my Bank hasn’t the same policy.
And it were only some €-cents left on a spare account that I only use for testing.

What is more disturbing is the “30 days, 7 days and 72 hours” reminders. I DON’T REMEMBER HAVING RECEIVED ANY REMINDERS! Alzheimer on my side or a Skype mistake? I any case there is a justified reason for concern!


Customers' choices

Skype stopped SkypeCasts without previous warning (5 days = no time). Of course this is a total lack of respect of customers and they will loose some of them forever. I didn’t use it, therefore I am not affected, but still … it is a shame, especially “when and how” they announced it!

Microsoft isn’t a specialist either in respect of customers’ choices. My laptop downloaded Service Pack 3, and did reset some of my settings:
  • I had changed some standard start-up and shutdown Microsoft noises to something less intrusive (in my opinion), but Service Pack 3 (SP3) replaced them with the original Microsoft sounds.
  • And … SP3 also launched – against my will - Windows Messenger at start-up. Eh … I have an account, but my chat and communication tool is .
Apple isn’t better. Each time I download a newer version of iTunes, I have to disable manually the automatic launch of QuickTime.

Small nuisances, but anyway a complete lack of respect of customers’ choices.