Belgacom loves Skype in Belgium?

Will my Skype still work?
Belgacom is the former monopolist State owned telephone company in Belgium, and they still have a big part of the market, especially of ADSL internet connections. And although the logos of Skype and Belgacom have almost the same color, I don't think they love each other.

I got a very disturbing e-mail this morning. I translate it from Dutch:

"Dear customer,

To provide your internet connection with the most optimal protection against viruses, hackers, etc. Belgacom takes continuously a lot of protective actions. Therefore, from Monday November 30 on, we implement a major protection intervention on our network: TCP-ports 80, 23 and 443 will be closed for all external traffic towards your network (incoming sessions …)

If you use your internet connection simply to surf or to mail, then you will not notice anything and you don’t need to continue to read.

Only some very specific applications (like web servers) will not work anymore."

And then they give instruction how to unblock the ports!
(The red marked text above is their "marking").

So, will my Skype still work? Technical people know that Skype uses the ports 80 and 443. I am curious, and am awaiting Monday 30 to see what happens. I’ll give feedback for sure.

And of course, there is a workaround, but …

[Feedback November 30: it still works!]


50 million or half a billion?

Read the Skype blog here!

Fantastic! As usual they claim they have huge amounts of users, in this case they say: (Skype) already connects over half a billion people around the globe through voice and video conversations that span oceans and time zones.

Why do they exaggerate? Why do they forget to say that it is “usernames” they should say, not users!

  • I have registered 26 usernames, and I use usually only one. Am I “26 users”?
  • My father died last year (unafortunately). Is he still a user? Perhaps he is still alive?
  • My brother lost his password and made a new account. Is he two (2) users?
  • Some spammers register new usernames every day. Are it always different users?
  • And a friend tried Skype, but doesn't use it anymore. But he is still a user, according to Skype!
No, no, no, Skype probably has only some 50 million regular users, not half a billion. How do you otherwise explain that there are ONLY 20 million users online at the same moment at some moments of a day?

When will Skype stop with those lies?


20 million users online

Late, yes I know, I am late to report it (I was abroad and didn’t use internet).
I was warned by Dick Schiferli from Pamela that Skype reached 20 million concurrent users online for the first time last Monday, and he published it on his PamNews.com blog. This is the 6th time this year that Skype adds a million. Concerning this metric, this is a fantastic year for Skype.And while I mentioned Pamela … some readers are perhaps wondering what Pamela is? Well, it is really “THE Swiss Knife” for Skype: answering machine, video and voice recording, birthday announcements, mood editor, automatic chat answers (when you are away for instance), etc. Really fantastic: see www.pamela.biz.

And you want to fax with Skype? Impossible you think? Click on the next icon :-)


Skype Tip No Worm

I got a strange warning message this morning after starting my computer:According to the Skype Forum, this isn't a worm or other intrusion but a Skype feature related to Firefox or Explorer, see Skypenames.exe: what is that?.
It could explain why my Firefox experienced some serious slowdowns the last weeks. But anyway, nothing to be really worried about. But, why is it called a "useful tip" while i disabled all my "notifications" in my Skype Options?

What I am worried about (for Skype): how many people will get scared and will uninstall Skype?


Quarterly results Skype

Skype continues its steady growth, but the financials don’t convince me!

Skype to Skype minutes grew quite well, more than 8%. However, this doesn’t generate direct revenue. The revenue comes mainly from people calling fixed or mobile lines, therefore from SkypeOut.SkypeOut minutes grew by some 3%. But, when looking at the slope of the curve, paid minutes seem to reach some saturation level, meaning that the paying user base is slowly reaching a kind of maximum.

This is reflected in the revenues, although the graph in dollars shows an increase of about 8%! Indeed, 80% of the revenue of Skype is coming from outside the USA. Therefore, the weakness of the dollar or the strength of the euro and other currencies has a positive impact on the dollar revenue.Recalculating the financial growth of Skype in euros, it is only a 3% growth. After all, this is really quite good: very few businesses can show such a growth in only one quarter. But, what concerns me is the slowing down of the growth of SkypeOut minutes! Something has to be done on that side!


And ... again a million

Only three weeks, and the second time this year that Skype adds a million concurrent users online in only 3 weeks, (this is a record speed) and also the fifth million milestone this year, another absolute record. And the growth goes on despite competing products, lawsuits, new owners, eBay, Police and intelligence agencies threats and unhappiness, ...
I am really interested to see the quarterly results of Skype within eBay, and perhaps one of my previous earnings predictions will be way too low.


RocketMan flew away

He was one of the biggest helpers on the Skype Forum, we even had some ocasional private chats. He was a very nice man, and although he fought his illness, he left some days ago wife and kids and (least important) our Skype community.See also the post of Raul Liive, Skype Staff on the Skype Forum.


18 million online at the same time

The best measure of the growth of Skype users is still the top "concurrent users online". After the "usual summer recession", we finally reached today a new top of 18 million concurrent users online at about 16h GMT.
I am really happy to see that Skype is still growing as expected.


Real wedding of a virtual contact

For us Belgians, the Dutch province Friesland is about the End of the World. Yesterday I went there for the first time of my life to “really” meet one of my “virtual” Skype contacts for the first time in the 4 years that we know each other. And it wasn’t an ordinary visit: I got an invitation for her wedding (yes, it is a woman).Ike is one of the few persons who fell in love with Skype, became a Skype Forum contributor, then got the Super User recognition from Skype, got promoted to Forum Moderator, and finally works now for Skype! You can read part of her story on her own blog.

It was a very beautiful wedding. Tjep, her husband, is a very nice man with – just alike Ike – a huge sense of humor. Only the Gods were angry, because it rained quite a lot. But, probably they were jealous!


Skype is leaving eBay

Having a Skype blog, and although this post isn’t really about numbers, I really have to publish it: A New Chapter is the title of a blogpost on the Skype Blog by Josh Silverman, CEO of Skype, concerning the “spinning off from eBay”. Now not a speculation anymore, but facts. Read the post!

Three comments on this:
  • Will Josh stay as CEO? I hope so, because I liked his style (seen from a distance - I am not an insider);
  • I disliked the takeover by eBay from the beginning, therefore I feel relieved;
  • I hope they will publish other – better – more reliable – more honest – more ... numbers! This will revive my blog!
Anyway … good luck Skype, thumbs up!


For the sake of completeness ...

I am still not in a blogging mood, enough work, and other nice things to do.
Anyway, here my update concerning the contribution of Skype’s business to eBay benefit or loss, see previous posts for more explanations …


Quarter 2, 2009 results

I don’t blog that often the last months, mainly because I have a lot of professional work. It doesn’t mean that I am not awake and listening to the Skype eco-cloud. And better late than never, but here my last analysis of the Skype Quarter 2 results.

Usernames (not equal to USERS!) grew linearly as in the previous months.
The revenue growth quarter to quarter was in US$ quite stronger than the previous one and in €uro linear! Probably the stronger dollar growth can be explained mainly by exchange rate differences.
The revenue per user name is still quite stable. As I said many times before, and I will continue to repeat this, this is a useless metric. It would be better if we could have the revenue per active user!
Skype to Skype minutes showed again a slightly less fast growth.
SkypeOut minutes showed also and again a lesser growth!

Financially this was a good quarter, in US$. But, I am a little worried about the slower growth of Skype minutes. Is Skype beginning to saturate? I am curious about the growth of users online in September, after the yearly summer recession. Only then I’ll know if my concern is justified.


Skype Poll

Fellow Blogger Hudson Barton is doing a small poll about how you use Skype.

It would be nice to help him to obtain a significant result. Please answer his questions at this link: [link not valid anymore]


No fixed line anymore

I just received an e-mail from my brother Paul, and i translate from Dutch:
Hello everybody,
Just to let you know that from June 1 on you will not be able to join me anymore on my fixed line 09/259 ** ** because I cancelled it.
You can still reach me on my cellular phone 04** ****** or on my Skype account ‘p**********e’

OK, good, this certainly is a cost saving decision, and he didn’t use his line for professional purpose anyway! And probably some of his friends will wonder what Skype is (if they awake out of the stone ages) or will think: "well that Skype stuff seems to work!". Viral marketing? Yes!


Skype Contribution to eBay

eBay published their SEC filings, or in other words additional information on the First Quarter results. The most important additional information is the “Contribution”, defined as: “Direct contribution consists of net revenues from external customers less direct costs

Here the evolution graph:
Interesting to see that after a dip in the last quarter of 2008 the contribution seems to rise again to 36 million US$ or 28 million €. In Euro, this is the highest number ever achieved. This seems promising, and as 80% of the revenue is outside the USA, in my opinion the Euro number is more relevant than the US$ number.

The contribution per “user name” - I emphasize “user NAME” – is stabilizing around 8 dollar cent per quarter, but this number is useless. Better would be if Skype provided the number of active usernames. If we estimate that there are about 45 million active users, the contribution per active user is however 81 cent per quarter! And if we estimate that only 20% are paying customers, each customer is spending about 4 US$ per quarter.


Download counter working again?

The results of the Skype RSS feed of total downloads of the Skype application according to the RSS feed of Skype:
  1. March 17: Total downloads = 1,168,075,188
  2. March 17: RSS feed stuck at the above-mentioned number until March 27
  3. March 27: Total downloads = about 500,000,000 during some hours
  4. March 27: Correction to about 630,000,000 downloads
  5. April 13: Sudden jump to a little bit less than 1,338,000,000 downloads
See the graph.
I think they messed it up at Skype. If the numbers are right, it means that between March 17 and April 13 they had an increase of about 170,000,000 downloads or a mean speed of 4374 downloads per minute!
I don’t believe this, because I personally NEVER saw such a high download speed (I don’t say it never happened for very short time spans however!) The total number of downloads is still wrong in my opinion.

Why worry? Well I don’t! The total number of downloads is as useless as the total number of registered usernames (you know, the 450 million usernames that Skype likes to claim they have). What would be useful, is to know how many Skype clients are “active” or used!

So, why do I follow that number anyway? From the number of downloads, you can derive the download SPEED. And THIS is interesting. Because increases in the download speed could indicate that something is happening!
As you can see I have noticed occasional downloads of 3500 per minute. But, the last years the speed has mainly been around 600 downloads per minute. Therefore every speed above 1000 catches my attention.

The last weeks have been quite interesting in this regard with speeds as high as 2400 downloads per minute. Indeed, there have been interesting announcements: Skype for SIP, and especially the Skype for iPhone!


Quarter 1, 2009 results

This was the very first time I listened live to the eBay conference call. It was even funny at some moments, see the end of my post.

But, first, let me be very clear: John Donahoe, in the Questions & Answers said very clearly that Skype has no synergies with eBay!

Now the results:
Usernames (not equal to USERS!) grew linearly as in the previous months. I have to admit I am somewhat surprised, because the users online grew better than linear!
The revenue growth quarter to quarter was stronger than the previous one as well in US$ as in €uro! This is good news of course.
On the other hands, the revenue per user name is still going down in US$ and went slightly up in €uro. As I said before, this is a useless metric. It would be better if we could have the revenue per active user! But Skype doesn’t disclose this. The revenue per user name will - in the long run - continue to go down, because of the many "dead user names".
Skype to Skype minutes showed a fairly good but slightly less fast growth, but of course, this is a “no direct revenue generation” metric. There are some indirect effects, like revenue coming from the Skype certified products (even bought by pure “Skype to Skype” users).
SkypeOut minutes showed also and again a good growth, but – alike the Skype to Skype minutes- slightly slower!

Was this a good quarter? Indeed it was! In those economical unstable times, growth is an exception!

What about the expected revenue for 2009 as a whole? Well, i lower my previous estimate of 750 million to only 650 million US$!

And then the funny things, of the Questions & Answers time for the analysts, with only one question allowed:
  • John Donahoe begun answering the first question of the first analyst by saying: “congratulations for your new house”! What the heck?????
  • And then some moments later it was the other eBay guy (I don’t remember his name, but i think it was the Financial Officer) saying : “let me take your second question of your one allowed question.
Funny, but at the other hand a pity that they respond to two questions, because it takes away time and therefore the opportunity for some analysts to ask questions. They could be tougher and ignore the second question! Several analysts dared to ask more than one question!


iPhone Skype app still in 6

After 3 weeks, Skype is still in position 6 in the TOP FREE APPS of the iTunes most popular applications today (in the Belgian App Store). But it is going "down" fast. No more comments on my side. I posted this for the "fun of the graph".


The valuation of Skype

Wandering over the internet i found several comments on the value of Skype for instance here and here.

Interesting to see (in one of the above mentioned links) that an analyst predicted a revenue of $786 million (for 2010? I guess this was a typo, and they meant 2009) while I predicted in a private chat with some Skype fanatics $750 million for 2009 some days ago.

Well, lets wait till next week to refine the predictions: eBay will divulge their results for the first quarter of 2009!

[EDITED] Added on the graph the weighted average of the Skype Journal Poll based on 68 votes.


Soon more numbers

This morning, before looking at my computer, i read the "Skype IPO" in my Flemish Financial Newspaper.

Only two comments:
  1. They soon WILL HAVE to provide more numbers.
  2. They still FALSELY claim that they have more than 400 million users.
NO, NO, NO, i will repeat what i commented several times in the past: they probably have about only 40 million real active unique living users. But yes, there are more than 400 million registered user NAMES, quite a difference!


2 million downloads of iPhone Skype app!

Skype announced it yesterday: 2 million downloads of iPhone Skype app!
This represents 12% of iPhone users or 7% of the combined iPhone and iPod Touch users. Impressive! I still believe that most of the Skype apps are downloaded for the iPhone, therefore, bold guess, 10% of iPhone users downloaded the Skype app.The download speed (right scale of the graph) went down from more than 400 per minute to 100 now, but this is quite normal!
This will certainly have an impact on the total number of Skype users, as some of these iPhone users are new to Skype, and will also install it on their computer, but I guess the effect with be quite marginal because:
  • iPhone users are usually “wealthy” and have also money to make expensive calls, therefore their “need” for free or cheap calls is lesser.
  • The Skype app can’t run in the background on the iPhone!
  • And, like all free applications, a lot will try it, but won’t really use it.
But … the launch of the iPhone app has made a lot of publicity for Skype, therefore the “viral” growth will get a boost again!


Voice on the Web

I was wandering in the Skype Journal pages, and suddenly i noticed that there are only posts from Phil Wolff. Where is Jim Courtney? Well, i didn’t notice when i should have, but he started his own blog, all about voice applications on the web, and with the straightforward title:Click on the logo to go to his blog!
Good luck Jim!


Skype, how many downloads?

1.2 billion downloads of the Skype client, or only half of that?

Data from the Skype RSS feeds:
  • March 17, 13h45 GMT: 1,168,075,188 downloads
  • March 27, 23h20 GMT: 628,899,379 downloads
  • April 07, 09h15 GMT: 647,446,472 downloads
On September 28, 2008 Josh Silverman claimed: “Celebrating 1 billion downloads”.

So, Skype, what should we believe?


i need a male opinion about something ...

[31/03/2009 10:29:34] Mary Criswell:
Hi , And how is yur work and evry thing around u ..... I was looking at in the directory, i saw your name, and you seem interesting! I need a male opinion about something ... Would you like to check out my pics and profile..?

This is a fictitious chat message based on real samples of phrases! What SPAM is for e-mail, SCAM is for Skype. Will it take the same proportions?

I hope not, but it begins to worry me. I got the last month 22 such messages, from all kind of countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, China, Morocco, Bulgaria, Turkey, some without information and quite often from Kumasi in Ghana and even one from Kumasi in the USA ! Most are woman names, but of course it could well be man sitting at the other side to try to rip you off. Only one tried to call me. Several asked to add them to my contact list.

OK, I could change my privacy setting and only accept chats and calls from known persons. But as I have a business this isn’t an option.

And to make it worse, since some months, when somebody asks you to be added to your contact list, you get an UNWANTED e-mail repeating this demand. It wasn’t like this in the past (no mails!). This is a change Skype introduced without much publicity and without asking. I understand the economic logic of it: it should boost the growth of users. But, it could as well chase users away, as they will perceive these mails from “Ghana Women and similar” as SPAM. You already get the SCAM demand on your Skype client and then you get it a second time in your mailbox. NO SKYPE, wrong way

You can disable this by going in your account page in the e-mail settings. In my opinion this should be unchecked by default. I don’t need twice the same message Skype !!!!

[EDITED:]After a remark of Vincent: it could be you get only once the message, either by mail, either through your client - i'll have to check.
[EDITED: 04/04/2009] I got a request twice, one on my client, and one a day later by mail!


600.000 iPhone Skype apps!

Robert Miller, Skype’s General Counsel wrote yesterday: “An interesting fact: at the time of writing, 24 hours after launch, more than 600,000 downloads of the software had taken place on the App Store”.
This is about 420 downloads of the Skype iPhone application per minute! I suppose quite a lot of these people didn’t know Skype before, and are also downloading the Skype client on their Macintosh or PC. By viral collateral growth (the publicity, etc.) there will also be a growth of “non-iPhone” users.

Apple has sold more than 17 million iPhones since it launched it’s “hyped” machine.
This means that in one day, 3.5% of the iPhone owners downloaded the application. This is impressive! Of course, Skype is free! And i would not be surprised that within a few days much more than 10% of the iPhone users will have downloaded the Skype application.

Well, well, as I said several times in the past months: exciting moments for Skype! Even the fact that Deutsche Telecom told it will block Skype (unless it was indeed an April’s Fool Joke) is in fact fantastic publicity for Skype. If it isn’t a joke, well then Deutsche Telecom is itself a very “fossil” non-joke: as all former State Monopolists they are accelerating their own death by such measures. People will be aware there is something threatening for Deutsche Telecom, and will try to find out how to circumvent the blocking!

[EDITED ON April 3] Not worth another post, but one million downloads in less than 2 days


2500 downloads per minute!

Yesterday and today I noticed huge downloads of the Skype client.

While it was around 600 downloads per minutes until some days ago, yesterday I noticed speeds up to 2500 downloads per minute! Now at 14h40 GMT it is already above 2000 downloads per minute and still rising. (During the GMT night the speeds goes traditionally down).

The last time that I noticed such huge speeds was in 2007! Could this be the iPhone Skype application effect? Is the number of downloads of the Skype application already included in the counting system? I guess the answer is yes on both questions!

I think we will see the growth of concurrent users online continuing to increase as fast or faster than before in the coming weeks!


RSS number feeds Skype are working

Yes, since some days, the RSS feeds of “Total Skype Downloads” and “Users Online Now” are working again. However …

The download counter stopped on Tuesday March 17 at the number of 1,168,075,188 downloads.

Then on Friday 27, it suddenly began to count again, but starting around 500 million downloads, and some hours later it jumped up to about 627 million. It keeps counting, but it seems Skype lost half of its historical downloads. I guess this is a bug, and that the engineers are still trying to solve it.

[EDITED AT 18h25 GMT+1] Some minutes before i published this post the download counter got stuck again at 633,382,728 downloads.

What caught my attention however is the download speed! It has risen to 1200 downloads per minute, while it was less than 600 per minute before the “counter crash. Impressive acceleration, and I made some speculations in the past about the reasons, without being sure.

[EDITED at 18h50 GMT+1]And another change: the time indicated in the RSS feeds is now GMT+1! (In the past it was GMT!). Why can't they be more consequent at Skype? GMT would be nice!


Skype on iPhone – act 2

No, don’t worry, i will not change my blog in an iPhone blog, but ... Some days ago I said there was a quite interesting solution called Fring to “Skype” on an iPhone.

Well, long before I bought my iPhone, I was a regular reader of the Belgian iPhone blog (French language) and I read something very interesting tonight! They quote another blog: according to Gigaom, Skype for iPhone could be released as soon as next week.

Om Malik
is usually very well informed, and has some direct contacts with Skype Staff. If he dares to write it, it should be true!


Skype = 8 % of international calls

Today I called 37 minutes with India. In fact it was a “social call” with a former colleague who lives there. Would I have called him if it hadn’t be a free Skype call? Certainly not.

Several bloggers or journalists comment on the new statistics of TeleGeography on calling. For instance David Meyer on ZDNET.
TeleGeography mentions that “not all of Skype's traffic is a net loss for international carriers”. My call to India was clearly one of these!

Some TeleGeography numbers concerning 2008:
  • Cross border telephone traffic: 384 billion minutes
  • Skype international traffic: 33 billion minutes
  • Total: 417 billion minutes
  • SkypeOut (Skype to landlines): 8.4 billion minutes
Skype itself says it provided 65.5 billion Skype to Skype minutes in 2008! If we believe those numbers, half of the Skype to Skype calls are international conversations!

The growth of Skype is quite spectacular!
  • 2005: 2.8% of international calls
  • 2006: 4.4%
  • 2007: I didn’t find data, but let us suppose 6%
  • 2008: 8.0%
I have to admit that the news concerning Skype is definitely positive the last months! I am curious to see the first quarter results!


17 million, waw again a million!

Again a million milestone of concurrent users online today: 17 million at 17h34 GMT (my clock in the screenshot is GMT+1)!!! This is the fifth time since September 2008! This is quite remarkable, because, as mentioned before in this blog, it is also the first time we add more than 5 millions in a September – June period.

Exciting times ahead! And a pity that Skype doesn’t tell us from which countries the growth comes from, although they unveiled a little bit of the picture some weeks ago. They gave much more detailed information in the past, before they were eBay! See for instance this blogpost from April 2005: Whose net is it anyway?. First hand information from the CEO himself!