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Skype By the Numbers: It's Really Big

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We all marvel at Facebook and its number of users, which at last check stood at around 400 million. For context, consider Skype, which at the end of the fourth quarter of 2009 had 560 million registered users, a data point Skype’s chief technology strategist, Jonathan Rosenberg, shared with the attendees of the eComm conference currently under way just south of San Francisco.

Skype, when it was still part of eBay (s EBAY), issued quarterly updates but those have now stopped. Nevertheless, here are the latest numbers:

  • Skype added 39 million registered users in the fourth quarter to end the year with a total of 560 million.
  • The number of Skype-to-Skype call minutes totaled 36.1 billion in the final three months of 2009.
  • Skype users made more the 250 billion minutes worth of Skype-to-Skype calls from the time the service was launched through the end of 2009.
  • Skype in 2009 accounted for 12 percent of the world’s international calling minutes, a 50 percent increase over 2008 when it accounted for 8 percent of international calling, according to TeleGeography Research.
  • 36 percent of Skype-to-Skype calls as of the end of the fourth quarter included video — in other words, Skype is going to figure prominently in the video conferencing business, challenging more established players with its no-cost solution. Skype CEO Josh Silverman in a guest post for GigaOM explained why he views video as the future of Skype.

Here are some other random Skype stats:

  • At peak times, 23 million users are logged into Skype (as of March 2010).
  • Skype is available in 29 languages and is used in almost every country around the world.
  • 35 percent of Skype users utilize it for business purposes.

57 Responses to “Skype By the Numbers: It's Really Big”

  1. Skype now has a free video conference (multiple cams as of 10/10) beta running. It’s pretty good. They also routinely have 23M+ users logged in.

    The telco industry has been eaten by the baby. From providing access to the web in the 90’s via phone and cable to having phone and cable be the services of the web today.

    TV’s have been transitioning from receivers of broadcast, to broadcast, cable and monitors… now adding some PC, routing and gaming functionality… all to compete with the functionality of a monitor with a PC plugged into it.

  2. Chris Mek

    Thanks for the good stuff Om. eBay must have sold Skype because they saw the numbers stalling and they did not want it to affect it’s financials. However, the structure of the deal implies that they do believe in the model: i.e they actually did not offload it totally but kept a 35% stake. Typically, this is a move to send a company under the radars.

    Bottom line 1: Skype had peaked and that explain their new model to sign up co-opetition deals to try to ramp the use. It’s the only reason they did not give our paid # of users.

    Bottom line 2: Facebook is about a new form of communicating – that is more comfortable to people. (and a lot more than that.) So I agree that you cannot really compare with Skype except in the number of users. This year the trendline on Facebook has it surpassing 500M users (so what took skype 10 years to build, Facebook has done in the matter of a couple years. And whereas Skype’s curve had peaked, FB is exponential.)

  3. To put it simply Skype Rocks. We have also used Skype for patient consults. The call quality is almost always very good, certainly on par with that of cell calls.

    Using video/telecommuting cuts down on travel cost as well. It is a much more efficient way to do business. It can’t replace face to face business, however not all meetings need to be in person.

  4. I love Skype! My problem and source of my skepticism over these numbers is that rarely are any of my contacts online and Skype-able. So until they are hooked on Skype functionality will be limited. Also, I have one contact who has created 6 accounts–a new one for every time he forgets his password. That duplication may be skewing the numbers too, as I notice that behavior quite a bit…

  5. Disruption at it’s best… and yet, it’s too early to count the carriers out of the game. They have deep pockets and even deeper government regulations…

    23 million users logged in during peak times? Even though this is a big number, when considering the 6.7 billion or so people on the planet and the ubiquity of the telephone, there is still plenty of room to play in…

  6. Great post ,

    As a Telecom Engineer and Carrier Relations Manager I know what the 36.1 billion minutes mean .

    OMG 12% of all global traffic . Thats a lot . I hope atleast i have 1% of their traffic on my networks .

  7. Stats are impressive. I have tried other video calling software but nothing beats Skype. The quality of video is superb (even at my place where people still live below 256kbps poverty line). 12% of international calls is awesome. Way to go Skype!

  8. Rohan S

    I really want to understand how skype does it. How does it manage so many calls simultaneously? Specially the ones that are made to regular phones. Can someone explain (their technology) ?

  9. Treeman

    Ummm… The comparison to Facebook is a very bad one. Facebook’s user count is a monthly user count, not registered users. Apples to oranges. I’m sure Facebook has much more registered users than Skype does.

  10. Has anybody used competitors like VoxOX which is more feature rich combining the functionality of Skype and Google Voice? Any other competing services people like? Curious to hear some opinions.

  11. J.A. Watson

    Did anyone ask what percentage of those claimed “560 million” registered users were “real”? That number includes every Skype account that has ever been created since the first beta release – including millions of accounts that have been created for one-time use by the spammers, pornographers and sex-chat-come-on artists who infest Skype space. Every abandoned account, never used account, duplicate account and anything else that has ever been created. Skype could easily make an estimate of “real” accounts, but that does not suit their propaganda purposes.

  12. I find it interesting that the new HDTVs are starting to include Skype videoconferencing support. Interesting because video conferencing may have always been destined for the living room instead of the den.

    • Be careful of the use of the term “video conferencing”; currently Skype only supports one-to-one video calling, including on new models of Panasonic, LG and Samsung TV’s

      On the other hand having just listened to an audience participation session on video conferencing at eComm, all multi-party video conferencing still has a way to go to have a satisfactory video conferencing experience. May explain why Skype has yet to introduce video conferencing as a feature.

      • You are probably right in claiming careful use of the term “video conferencing”. But, Skype on Tv is what most domestic users will be happy with. No special / expensive equipment needed. Switch on the telly and chat. As simple as that.

        I would expect this “chat on tv” to get popular soon, and who knows, this might inspire clones, but also a more natural integration with social services. Perhaps facebook will roll it in. Or Google will dish out a more acceptable form of wave, and this time with live video chat.

        In any case, the telecom-TV convergence will be a happening place in the next couple of years. For sure.

  13. Those are impressive numbers!
    Combine Skype and similar services, the (new) iPhone with video chat, free WiFi…and you realize how much potential there is in the nearly 150 year old telecommunications industry.