A recent filing with the SEC has confirmed what we've all been expecting. That's right folks, Skype is going public. The VoIP service is looking to raise around $100 million in this first round of financing. The shares will trade on the NASDAQ Global Market, and be managed by the likes of JP Morgan and Goldman-Sachs. Analysts are expecting the IPO to be a success; Skype has been expanding and forging new business relationships.
Skype has 560 million registered users, 124 million of which are active monthly. 8.1 million pay for the service, averaging $96 per year. Skype managed to rake in $406 million in revenue and $13.2 million in profit in the first half of 2010. A big step up from the $99 million loss in 2009. Although, at the time, Ebay held a 65% stake in the company and there were disputes over just who owned what. Now that Skype's original creators are back at the helm, many are expecting profits to continue.
Do you use Skype on a regular basis? Are you one of the 8.1 million that pay for the additional features? The SEC filings don't divulge the details of how many shares are going out, but we'll probably hear more at the date approaches.
Have an awesome idea for a Skype app? Well get to it! The good news for software developers for both Windows and Mac platforms is that Skype has opened up its SDK to anyone who requests it.
"We are taking Skype into new directions by empowering consumer electronic and desktop software innovators to embed Skype into their products through the availability of our new software development kit (SDK) called SkypeKit," Skype wrote in a blog post when first announcing SkypeKit in June. "We believe that every connected device can become a communication device, with the addition of SkypeKit. Likewise, desktop applications everywhere can now include Skype."
You have to act quick, however, as SkypeKit is a limited, invite-only beta release. It's unclear how many invites Skype intends to hand out or how long the beta will last.
Google Voice. Situation: It's a pretty awesome competitor to good ol' Skype, especially when you use its crazy powers to forward calls from your magical number to physical locations all over the world. I, for one, use Google voice to get into my own apartment. Ringing me up on the ol' call box in front of my condo complex calls my Google Voice number (local calls only!), which in turn buzzes up my cell phone which, in turn, lets me go home.
That's just one interesting use of an otherwise awesome service. There are many more. Problem: There are not nearly as many apps--Web-based or downloadable--that allow you to interact with Google Voice in unique, cool ways. I've scrounged together five for your enjoyment but, honestly, we're scraping the barrel this week in terms of available software.
So, that said, go register a Google Voice number. And while you're doing that, start skimming this article for awesome new ways to use the service!
There's quite a spat brewing between Fring and Skype over just who should be offering people free video calls over 3G. Fring made quite the bit of news last week when they released an updated app for the iPhone that allowed video calls over 3G using the Skype protocol, as well as its own standard. The calls could be placed to computers, Android phones, iPhones, and Symbian phones. Shortly after release, Fring turned off Skype due to what they claimed was excessive traffic. Now they are saying that Skype actually forced them to stop using the Skype system by blocking them, and sending some nasty legal threats over.
Skype said in a blog post that, " Fring’s mis-use of our software was increasingly damaging our brand and reputation with our customers." They go on to say that they did not block Fring from working, but have been talking to the startup about the situation. Skype contends that Fring is violating the Skype EULA.
Fring's corresponding blog post is a bit more aggressive, calling Skype "cowards" for blocking their app. This is probably going to take some time to work out, so grab some popcorn and get ready for the next round of accusations.
Skype continues to conquer new territory, the latest being three Sony Ericsson smartphones based on the Symbian platform, the VoIP software company announced today.
"Applications for communication and social networking are incredibly popular with mobile users. The opportunity to use a world-class app like Skype, in combination with the excellent applications and capabilities we have already integrated into our Satio, Vivaz, and Vivaz pro devices, will make up a compelling package to our customers," said Kristian Tear, Executive Vice President and Head of Sales and Marketing at Sony Ericsson.
Just like with other platforms, those who own one of the above Symbian devices will be able to make free Skype-to-Skype calls to other Skype users around the world, send and receive IMs from individuals or groups, share pictures and videos, receive calls to their existing online number, and pretty much everything else you can do with Skype on the desktop.
In an official blog post on Thursday, Skype announced it is previewing a brand new version of its VoIP software which, among other things, supports group video calling for up to 5 people.
"With the latest version, you'll be able to bring the whole family together for a chat, for lunch, or even a birthday," Skype wrote. "You'll be able to spend quality time with your best friends, planning a trip, or even hosting a book club. And you'll be able to meet with colleagues from across the world without leaving your desk."
Skype made sure to emphasize that its video calling is currently in beta, meaning "there might be a few rough edges, and that it might not work perfectly every time." And to take advantage of group video calls, everyone in your party has to be running the new version.
According to an Associated Press (AP) report, Skype is finally planning a public beta test of a group video chat function in which up to five users will be able to see each other's mugs simultaneously during a call.
When it launches next week, beta users will be able to try it out for free, but eventually Skype will charge for the five-way videoconferencing feature, said Neil Stevens, general manger of Skype's consumer business segment. Other features will also be included, though Stevens didn't elaborate on what those might be.
Stevens said Windows PC users will get first crack at the video group chat feature, while the company expects to release a version for Macs sometime later this year.
Starting tomorrow, Verizon customers with a smartphone and a data plan will be able to download and use the Skype Mobile application, the VoIP provider announced on Tuesday.
"A month ago at Barcelona we wowed the mobile industry by announcing this partnership with Verizon. It seemed improbably at best to many in the industry. Why in the world would a carrier want to partner with Skype," said Russ Shaw, general manager of Moible for Skype.
Skype said its app will work on nine smartphones to begin with, including the BlackBerry Storm 9530, Storm2 9550, Curve 8330, Curve 8530, 8830 World Edition, Tour 9530, Droid, Droid Eris, and Devour. Support for more phones and platforms is expected later this year, Skype said.
With the app installed, Verizon owners will be able to make and receive unlimited Skype-to-Skype voice calls around the world, send and receive unlimited IMs with other Skype users, and take advantage of Skype's international rates. Instead of using Verizon's data network, Skype Mobile routes calls over the operator's voice network, which might explain why Verizon requires a subscription to both its voice and data plans, and why it isn't too worried about partnering with Skype.
Life is good in the international communications industry--if you're Skype, that is. And everyone else? Not so much, according to data by research firm TeleGeography.
TeleGeography says that international telephone traffic has slowed way down, halting a trend that's been in place for a quarter of a century. In the past 25 years, international call volume from telephones enjoyed a compounded annual growth rate of 15 percent. And while traffic is still on the rise, it's slowed to just 8 percent, growing from 376 billion minutes in 2008 to about 406 billion minutes in 2009.
"Demand for international voice has been remarkably robust, but it's clearly not recession-proof," said TeleGeography analyst Stephan Beckert.
Meanwhile, Skype's international traffic is booming and remains ahead of the curve, having jumped 51 percent in 2008 and is projected to grow 63 percent in 2009, to 54 billion minutes, TeleGeography said.
"The volume of traffic routed via Skype is tremendous," Beckert added. "Skype is now the largest provider of cross-border communications in the world, by far."
This goes to provide the old adage: you snooze, you loose. In this case if you ‘snoozed’ on Skype for six months, you’d loose any money you might have put into your Skype account. Up until now, anyway. Skype was caught with its hands in your till, and has agreed to pay (some of) the money back.
It’s a simple thing really. Skype is cheap. Calls to land phones (SkypeOut) are about the only thing you pay for, but even those are cheap. Those who made such calls would have to first deposit money into their Skype accounts. Problem is, it’s really hard to spend even a pittance. So your money would sit--safe and secure, like in a savings account. Or so you thought.
If there was no activity on your Skype account for 180 days, Skype decided to assume your account was abandoned and would take the money. There one day, gone the next. But that didn’t sit well with a group of consumers who filed a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit was based on state laws regulating gift cards. Skype’s action was really no different from retailers who sold you a gift card, and later charged fees, or ‘expired’ the balance if it wasn’t used in a period of time. Unfortunately for Skype, many state laws forbid this, and these consumers alleged Skype was in violation.
It seems that Skype agrees, at least to the tune of $1.85 million, which it will put up to settle the class action. Skype users who purchased Skype Credit prior to December 31, 2009 are eligible for up to a $4 credit to their account if Skype took their money due to inactivity. (Which isn’t much solace if you had more than $4 in your account.) Skype has also said it’s discontinuing this practice--your Skype Credit is now safe, even from Skype.