Skype

Skype is a proprietary telecommunications application specializing in providing video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices over the internet. Users may transmit text, video, audio, and images.

Quick Facts

Summary

  • Ranked #1,451th worldwide
  • Active users 300 M
  • Type Messaging Networks
  • Launched date Aug 29, 2003
  • Employees 979
  • Headquarters Silicon Valley, California, U.S.
  • Parent company Microsoft (2011 - present)

Founders

person
Niklas Zennström Järfälla
person
Janus Friis

Networks

  • Brand value In 2020 N/A
  • Revenue in 2020 $6.8 B
  • Net loss In 2020 N/A

Service in the People's Republic of China

Service in the People's Republic of ChinaSpecial version of Skype for China. (via en.greatfire.org)

Since Sep 2007, users in China trying to download the Skype software client have been redirected to the site of TOM Online, a joint venture between a Chinese wireless operator and Skype, from which a modified Chinese version can be downloaded.

The TOM client participates in China's system of Internet censorship, monitoring text messages between Skype users in China as well as messages exchanged with users outside the country.

In Oct 2008, it was reported that TOM had been saving the full message contents of some Skype text conversations on its servers, apparently focusing on conversations containing political issues such as Tibet, Falun Gong, Taiwan independence, and the Chinese Communist Party.

Information about Skype users outside China who were communicating with a TOM-Skype user was also saved. A server misconfiguration made these log files accessible to the public for a time.

Research on the TOM-Skype venture has revealed information about blacklisted keyword checks, allowing censorship and surveillance of its users. All attempts to visit the official Skype web page from mainland China redirect the user to skype.gmw.cn. The Linux version of Skype is unavailable.

Original Idea

original ideaoriginal idea

Skype was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennström, from Sweden, and Janus Friis, from Denmark. The Skype software was created by Estonians Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, Jaan Tallinn, and Toivo Annus.

Friis and Annus are credited with the idea of reducing the cost of voice calls by using a P2P protocol like that of Kazaa. The name of the company evolved from "Sky peer-to-peer" or "Skyper."

The original Skype application permitted voice calls from PC to PC and little else. Skype’s original logo was purple. Skype’s 0.9 Beta created the platform to permit calls to landlines from PC’s on a fee schedule.

Skype was sold to eBay, based in San Jose, California, in Sep 2005. On 10 May 2011, Microsoft purchased Skype from eBay for a supposed $8.5B.

Brief History

2002
Jan Raised a $250,000 seed round from Draper Richards.
2003
Apr The domain names Skype.com.

Skype.net was registered.

Aug Skype was founded.

The first public beta version was released.

Oct 1.5M downloads and 100,000 concurrent users on Skype.
2004
Feb Introducing audio conference calling.
Mar Raised an $18.8M series B round from DFJ and Index Ventures.
Aug First public release of Skype for Mac.
Oct 1M concurrent users and 2B free Skype-to-Skype minutes.
2005
Feb Launched for Linux.
Mar Skype Voicemail was released.
Jun Skype entered into an agreement with the Polish web portal Onet.​pl.

Reached 10M Skype-to-Skype calls.

Sep Sold to eBay for US$2.5B.
Dec Version 2.0 Beta was released.
2006
Jan Skype video calling launched on Windows.
Feb Announced 10-way conference calling on PCs.

Announced investment in Fon.

Apr 100M users.

Acquired Sonorit.

May SMS sending feature becomes available on Windows.

Introduced Voice Conferencing.

Dec Introduced first-calling subscriptions.
2007

$382M in revenues.

276M users.

Jan Skype launched Skype Pro.
Mar Reached half a billion downloads.
Oct 3 Skypephone introduced with 3, a mobile UK carrier.
2008
Feb 100B minutes of Skype-to-Skype calls.

Josh Silverman becomes Skype's CEO.

Apr Released Mobile Skype.
Sep Skype celebrates 1B downloads.
2009
Feb Skype 4.0 launched with full-screen video calling.
Mar Launched for iPhone.
May Made a grand appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show “Where the Skype Are You?”.
Jul Launched WiFi and screen sharing features.
Aug Elevation Partners invests.
Sep eBay was selling 65% of Skype to Andreessen Horowitz, and others for US$1.9B.
Nov Received US$50M in its fourth funding round.
Dec Skype for Business is released.
2010
Jan Skype on your TV arrives in deals struck with Samsung and Panasonic.
Feb Launched a video calling app for iOS.
Oct Launched on Android devices.
Dec Skype for iPhone now with video arrives.
2011
Jan Skype acquired Qik for $150M at CES.
May Microsoft acquired Skype for US$8.5B.
Jul Partnered with Comcast.

Facebook introduced video calling powered by Skype.

Aug Skype acquired GroupMe for $85M.
2012
Jan TeleGeography reports Skype provides 25% of the world’s international calling.
Feb Skype for Windows Phone began rolling out.
Apr Skype on PlayStation Vita.

Skype for String is launched.

May Comcast rolls out Skype on Xfinity.
Jun 250M connected users per month.
Aug Skype’s 9th Birthday. Logitech TV Cam HD for Skype calls in the living room launched.
2013

280M active monthly users.

Jan Skype 6.1 for Windows adds Outlook integration.
Apr Kaspersky warned of Bitcoin-Mining Skype malware.
May Launched a new real-time language translator.
Jun Released a free video messaging service.
Jul Microsoft updated the Skype app for Android (version 4.0).
Aug Released the 4.10 update to the app for Apple iPhone and iPad.

Launched Skype for Outlook.com in the US, UK, Germany, France, Brazil, and Canada.

2014
May Launched "Skype Translator" available in four spoken languages.
Nov Lync product would be replaced by Skype for Business.

Microsoft begins beta test of Skype for Web.

2015
Aug Microsoft begins a private beta of Skype for Business apps for iOS and Android.
Sep Announced the release of Mojis.
Oct Microsoft integrated Skype with Office online.
2016

Skype's mobile app reached 1B downloads worldwide.

Jul Microsoft releases a free browser version of Skype for small businesses.

Announced end of support for Windows Phone 8.

Oct Skype for Business for Mac released.
2017
Feb Announced plans to discontinue its Skype Wi-Fi service globally.
Jun Microsoft rolled out their latest update for iOS.
Aug PayPal partners with Microsoft's Skype.
Nov 1B downloads from the Google Play Store.

Skype iOS and Android apps are removed from the app store in China at the request of the Chinese government.

Dec Microsoft added Skype Interviews
2018
Aug Skype now supports end-to-end encryption across all platforms.
2019
Dec Skype was announced to be the sixth most downloaded mobile app of the decade.
2020
Mar 100M monthly active users and 40M daily active users.

Network Features

Instant messaging

Instant messagingInstant Messaging in Skype. (via media.gcflearnfree.org)

Skype allows users to send instant messages to other users in their contact list. Messages sent to offline users are stored on Skype servers and will be delivered to their recipients as soon as they come online on Skype.

Chat history along with the message status will be synchronized across all user devices supported by Skype whenever the user signs in with the same Skype account.

Emoticons and formatting

Users can send about 254 emoticons that are displayed either statically or animated, depending on the user's settings. There are also hidden emoticons, 241 flags, and 63 other.

Chat history

Skype keeps the user's instant messaging history on the user's local computer, and on Skype's cloud for 30 days.

Outgoing calls

Outgoing callsOutgoing calls on Skype. (via techyuga.com)

The ability to call landlines or mobile phones from Skype was originally branded as SkypeOut, but this term has been dropped in favor of Calls to mobiles and landlines.

Skype users can call phone numbers, including landline and mobile phones, for a fee using prepaid Skype Credit or a subscription.

This fee can be as low as US$0.02 per minute for most developed countries, and as high as US$6.80 per minute for calls to the Inmarsat numbers.

Skype Out is Skype terminology for making calls to standard phone lines. This includes landlines and mobile/cell phones – i.e. any number you can call from a standard phone except emergency numbers (e.g. 000, 999) and, in some cases, toll-free numbers.

SkypeOut calls are charged per minute. The rates are cheap (comparable to calling card rates).

Subscription calling plans

Skype's unlimited calling offers unlimited calls to anyone, on any phone, within the U.S. and Canada, for a one-time (e.g. annual) fee.

Skype offers several monthly plans that it calls unlimited. However, Skype limits these subscriptions to 10,000 minutes per month, 6 hours per day, and 50 telephone numbers per day.

Skype To Go numbers

Users can set up a Skype To Go number which allows them to reach international phone numbers dialed from any landline or mobile. Skype provides a local number (the user chooses the area code) that then connects using Skype Credit to the number in another country. The service also provides the opportunity to dial any number abroad as well.

Emergency numbers

Skype also does not support calling emergency numbers such as 1-1-2 in Europe or 911 in the United States, however, they do support this service in Australia, Denmark, Finland, and the United Kingdom.

Caller ID for outgoing calls

Skype offers a feature allowing users to set the caller ID for outgoing calls to telephone numbers.

Incoming calls

Incoming callsIncoming calls on Skype. (via i.imgur.com)

Skype Number allows a Skype user to receive calls to their Skype client (on whatever device) dialed from mobiles or landlines to a Skype-provided phone number.

Skype offers numbers in Australia, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Republic of Korea, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Voicemail

VoicemailSkype voicemail. (via uh.edu)

This service allows callers to leave voicemail messages for Skype users who are indisposed. Leaving voicemail messages became a free service in 2012.

Trends are shown on TikTok's explore page or the page with the search logo. The page enlists the trending hashtags and challenges among the app.

SMS text messaging

Like many other instant messaging services, Skype clients can send SMS text messages to mobile phone numbers.

In the United States, China, and Taiwan, Skype uses a "generic, pre-defined number" as the sender ID. In other countries, the message can be set to appear coming from a verified mobile number, allowing recipients to reply, or else show the first 11 characters of the Skype username.

Wireless hotspot network access

Skype WiFi allows users to pay a per-minute charge for Internet access at commercial wireless hotspots using Skype Credit.

The application will be delisted, and the service itself will no longer function after Mar 31, 2017.

Mojis are short clips/gifs featuring characters from films and TV shows to be entered into conversations with the same ease as emoticons. They worked with Universal Studios, Disney Muppets, BBC and other studios to add to the available collection of Mojis.

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