Skype certainly is profitable!

After publishing their Third Quarter results, eBay also published the SEC filings. There is some additional cost data in it. One interesting metric is “contribution”: this is more or less equal to “benefit before paying a management fee to eBay”, see the explanation in a previous blogpost.
The “contribution graph” shows a very interesting rising tendency.

I plotted the graph also in euro (€), because Skype is still mainly a European company. Quote from their sec filings: “Based on changes in foreign currency rates … net revenues were positively impacted by foreign currency translation of approximately $12.3 million (US$) and $46.6 million (US$) during the third quarter and first nine months of 2008, respectively, as compared to net revenues that would have been recorded had foreign currency rates remained constant.

Even in euro the rise of the last two quarters is very spectacular. How come? Let us quote eBay again: “… revenues are generated primarily from fees charged to users to connect Skype’s VoIP product to traditional telecommunication networks. These fees are charged on a per minute basis or on a subscription basis, and we refer to these minutes as SkypeOut minutes.”. Well, the next graph shows the evolution of SkypeOut minutes …
There seems to be an accelerating tendency in the last 3 quarters!
Another reason for the spectacular growth of contribution could be cost cutting and/or the focus on the revenue generating activities and stopping or putting lesser priority on some other activities, like what they did with SkypeCasts.
Conclusion: after all Skype seems to make it, even if eBay certainly paid too much for it!


The fastest million ever!

We needed only 35 days to go from 13 million concurrent users online to 14 million.

These are my screen shots at 17h55 GMT ...


Is Skype a tool for calls or chat?

On the blog of Pat Phelan somebody commented “i don’t like being attached to the computer when I am on the phone - I like to do the dishes, and pick up the apartment or office - multitasking! I do use Skype a lot for text chat.

So, is Skype mainly used for (video) calling or for chatting? Is it still a telephony replacement?

Difficult to say, no official data from Skype, and I didn’t find any survey on that topic! That was also the question that MuppetMaster asked some days ago on the Skype Forums.

On the same Pat Phelan blog, 11 comments were posted, including one of the blogger:
  • 5 say they use Skype for calls
  • 3 don’t use it anymore
  • 2 clearly use it for chatting
  • 2 don’t say anything about Skype usage
(Yes the sum is more than 11, one spoke about "calls + chats").
This statistic isn’t relevant of course, and it wasn't a poll!

I will now repeat part of my “forum” answer …

I can believe that some people never use Skype to call. Indeed, some have no microphone on their computer, or have not enough bandwidth to make a decent call, and some are even not interested at all to call with their computer.

The only official data we have is what Josh Silverman said recently: "We’ve helped make video calls mainstream, with about a quarter of Skype-to-Skype calls using video".

Now, let me try a tricky exercise:
  • Skype claims to have cumulated 100 billion minutes skype-to-skype calls.
  • Therefore last year this was about 40 billion minutes (based on a rough calculation i made).
  • If a “mean” call lasts about 10 minutes (my guess), this represents 4 billion calls last year.
  • If there are 40 million active users (raised rounded number based on Hudson Barton his guesses), this is 100 Skype-to-Skype calls per active user per year, or one each 3 or 4 days.
Not too bad, IMHO.
My personal case, rough data from the last 6 months:
  • about half of my contacts seem to have a webcam.
  • i have about 5 Skype-to-Skype calls per month, and in less than half of them i use video.
  • i have about 20 chat messages per month.
  • the proportion is therefore (in my statistical irrelevant case) 20% calls - 80 % chats.
I anyhow think the discussion is useless. Probably most people installed Skype because they heard about the “free calls + video”. Probably most of these people already had an IM tool installed, and probably most of them now chat mainly through Skype with their Skype contacts!

A lot of “probablies”. If anyone has more information, please let me know.