Stuck @ 30 million!

The year ends with a Skype disappointment for me, but let's remind first about some numbers and facts all provided by Skype itself, mostly in October:
  • Skype is now Microsoft
  • Integration of Skype & FaceBook
  • 300 million minutes of video calls per day
  • 700 million minutes of free calls per day
  • 65 million people sign in every day
The last number is interesting, because this gives an idea about how many real Skype users there are in the world.

But, there is also « bad » news : for the first time ever since 2004 Skype didn't cross a « million milestone » of users online in the period September to December. In May Skype crossed the 30 million simultaneous people online, and it got stuck around that number ! I don't understand why ...
Graph from the Japanese site « http://skmap.gatagata.jp/ ».



What happens with Skype? The last weeks there is a strange behavior with the downloads. Sometimes, during hours, often half a day to more than one day (see the blue curve) it gets like stuck! The mean number of downloads was as low as 270 per minute, while usually it is around 2000 downloads per minute. Is it because they were working on a new version?
Anyway, there is some other reason for concern. End of March we reached the record of 30 million concurrent users online (people being online at the same moment). Every Northern Hemisphere summer there is a decrease of concurrent users online, perhaps because people spend less time in front of the stupid computer screen, and drink a beer in their garden (or other similar reasons, like Holidays).
But, it is now October 1, and still no new record (see the red curve). Should we be worried? Perhaps not. It happened also last year, and in 2007.
A reason for the “not growing online people” could be version 5.5 of the Windows client! The Skype window itself and the Skype home popped up when starting Skype: I know several people who switched Skype off because of this irritating behavior.
I downloaded version 5.6 yesterday, and hurrah, Skypes starts in a “friendly” way again, with only its characteristic whizzing sound.
(The graph above comes from the fantastic Japanese site @ http://nyanyan.to)


The link between outage and more downloads

Skype is down again, and this happens too often the last years.
But the funny thing is, at the same time the number of downloads of the Skype application raises tremendously. See the dramatic drop down of the users online on the red curve, and the very visible bent in the blue download curve. Why could this be?
I think that a lot of people thought that the Skype problem was their computer or Skype client crashing. Therefore they tried to install a new version, probably to no avail!


The days after Microsoft

It was big news on May 10: Skype bought for 8.5 billion dollar by Microsoft. Most comments (72% of 187) of Skype users on the Skype Blog were negative or worried: anger, sorrow, fear, ...
The funniest comment was “That's great, how do I delete my account?”!

But the announcement had one very positive effect, see the graph below ...
Before May 12, the speed of downloads was about 700/minute (see the blue curve from the Japanese site nyanyan.to). Then, during a period of about 24 hours there has apparently been some kind of a problem: the downloads stopped! Was there a bug in the download counter or did the downloadservers go down?

And then, after Friday the 13th there were massive amounts of downloads. Skype was downloaded at speeds of 3500 per minute!

It seems that a lot of people suddenly heard for the first time of their lives about Skype!

(The red curve is the daily or nightly fluctuation of Skype users online).


From my Flemish Financial Newspaper

Translated from Dutch:
I bought Skype!
But I don’t call any longer, because it costs money!

from De Tijd, May 11, 2011


Summer recession is approaching

Last week, on Monday March 28, Skype reached for the first time 30 million concurrent users online. Nice number! Will it be the last “million” milestone before the Northern Hemisphere summer? Even if the answer is yes, this is already the best season ever. Indeed, since the last 2010 summer, we crossed 7 times a million milestone. The last three years there is a very clear acceleration in the growth of Skype users online.

The graph above shows
  • “end of August” vertical year lines (horizontal axis)
  • in the red oval the number of million milestone crossings in “Northern Hemisphere School years”
In 2003-2004 there were no million milestones (but indeed a nice steady growth of Skype users).

Then, the next 4 School years, we crossed each time 3 times a million milestone.

In 2008-2009, it was 5 times, and in 2009-2010 it was 6 times.

So, will we stay with 7 times this year? The summer recession is approaching, and each year we have the same phenomenon: less users online at the same time. Probably people spend more time in their garden instead of in front of the computer, or they take Holidays, and some other “summer” reasons.

By the way: the Skype application download counter is working again (see the RSS feed link on the right side of this blog).


Download counter down again and again!

Really a pity for me "Skype Numerologist" as my friend Bill Campbell (another crazy Skype user) called me a long time ago. But the download counter is down again (the blue curve on the graph below).I can however tell you that in the time-span February 22 till yesterday March 21, there were about:
  • 1200 downloads of the Skype client per minute;
  • 45 million downloads in one month.
Strange anyway, that the counter stops working after exactly one month!

(Graph thanks to the Japanese site Nyanyan - see link on the right side)


Skype to Skype minutes

These are the minutes that do not generate revenue, the free minutes, the ones I love most (of course) and that allow me to speak (with video) for free with my son in Brazil!
Comments? Only that the growth is accelerating!


Number of Skype users

I graphed some of the data of Skype’s March 4 update, see also my previous post.
The first graph is the number of “connected users” or in other words the number of active users according to Skype’s own estimates. 124 million users are “connected”. As they say themselves, this is probably an overstatement of the real number of active users.A pity that they put Africa in the same zone as Europe and the Middle East (see the EMEA pizza slice), because Africa is a quite different continent (demography, internet penetration, etc.). Europeans are the champions, with 71 million, more than all other zones together!

The second graph is the percentage of internet users of the concerned zone who are using Skype. 16% of European, Middle Eastern and African internet users are using Skype, compared to only 9% of Americans. We are again the champions (I am European ;-)! Last, are the Asians, with only 3%. This seems to confirm my previous post that shows a disappointingly low number of Chinese users.The next graph is the amount of paying users by zone. Only 8.1 million people pay for Skype services, or only 6.5% of active users. Again, EMEA wins, but here the “Other Americas” loose, only 1.1 million paying customers!

And then the last graph is a surprise: compared to the other zones, A quite lesser proportion of EMEA connected users pay for Skype services, only 5%, compared to about 9% in the other zones. Possible reasons?
  • Perhaps the weight of African users with less economical power influences that number downward.
  • Other reason could be that, because of the higher internet penetration of Europe, more people can make free Skype to Skype calls, and therefore do not need to pay.
  • Third guess: the countries in that zone are smaller, people call mostly in their country, and the phone calls fare is competitive compared to the Skype price per minute (my case in Belgium!).
But, this are only guesses.


20 million active Chinese Skype Users?

In the latest results published by Skype on March 04 I found the following interesting phrase :
Our registered user number includes users who registered through their MySpace account and excludes users that have registered on Skype through our investment to address the Chinese market, Tel-Online Limited”.

I happen to have the numbers published the previous years, and (unless Alzheimer caught me) I never remembered that they said “excluded the Chinese”!
There is indeed a difference in the numbers I kept and the new published numbers, see the table on the left. The “middle column “Skype-China” are the latest published numbers. The first column “Skype+China” is what they published in the past. The third column is my calculation of the Chinese users. Surprisingly the growth of the Chinese user accounts between 2008 and 2009 was disappointingly low! Pity they don’t publish the 2010 Skype account numbers included Chinese users. See also the graph below.Could this mean there were only 100 million Chinese Skype accounts created, and that therefore there are probably less than 20 million active users? Quite a disappointment compared to the population of China!

(this post has been edited to add 2006 numbers, because Skype published 2007 numbers with growth % compared to 2006).


Download counter working again!

The Skype client has been downloaded 1.855 billion times according to the RSS feed. The download speed is about 1300 times per minute!

The counter was however down since May 2010. And before that date, the last download number was 2.438 billion times! (See the chart).

Why do I have more confidence in the 1.855 billion number? Well, in April 2009 I also noticed that the RSS feed was down, and after working again there was a strange upward jump in number of downloads and speed! I blogged about it and even got some private comments from Skype staff when I pretended that the new download number at that moment was flawed (first they seemed to agree, then they told me the new number was correct)!

Now, the last number of last week seems to be in line with the extrapolation of the download curve before April 2009, see the red line in the inserted graph!

I am happy to have again the number of downloads, because at least, even if it is not the most interesting indicator, it is, with the number of concurrent users online the only number that can be followed up day by day. I would like to receive more information from Skype (financial data, usage numbers, etc.), but the information became very scarce after they left eBay!


29 million concurrent users online

January 17: 28 million people online at the same time.

February 21: 29 million!

... and growing!


Social Networking iPhone Apps

On the Belgian iPhone apps store you can find in the top-100 of most downloaded apps this classification for Social Networking apps (by position number of all downloaded apps):

15: Facebook

21: Skype

22: Viber – Free Phone Calls

35: Windows Live Messenger

52: foursquare

55: Twitter

Interesting to see that only Facebook beats Skype!


Two million milestones the same day!

26 million people online at the same time for the first time ever today January 10. I knew it would happen today, because yesterday – although it was a Sunday, and usually a quite calm day – we almost reached 26 million people …
BUT !!!!!! ……
We also reached 27 million people online some minutes ago (around 17h45 GMT). For the first time ever we crossed twice the same day a million milestone!


The Skype user base is indeed still growing fast!

(The data comes from the Skype RSS Feeds, but can also be seen in the "Nyanyan graphs - see links at the right side of this blog - or if you look NOW (18h00 GMT), you can see it in the screen of your Skype client)


Skype and Telephone companies

Telegeography published an interesting article with the title “International Long-Distance Slumps, while Skype soars”.
I manipulated (cut and paste) their graph somewhat and came to this result:

Beware the interpretation of the graph: it shows the “YEARLY INCREASE” in calling minutes (phone trafficdark blue - and Skype free calling –brownish orange) worldwide, with emphasis on the word “INCREASE”. Total phone calls were 413 billion minutes in 2010, this is an increase of about 16 million minutes compared to 2009 or almost the same growth in absolute minutes as 2009 compared to 2008, but about half the amount of the previous years (2005-2008).
Telegeography is probably right that the economical recession of the period 2007-2009 affected the volumes of international “paying” telephone calls.

But, if we add Skype to the telephone companies, we see a quite different picture: The variation year to year of total minutes “INCREASE” fluctuates around 42 billion minutes from 2005 to 2009. Skype takes a higher proportion of this increase in 2008 and 2009.
AND … 2010 is quite spectacular: Skype generates 45 billion minutes increase in calling minutes, which, adding the telephone companies means an increase of over 60 billion minutes in 2010.
How can we explain this? I will advance some hypothesis:
  1. Some people who didn’t care about “free calling” in the past (because they had the money!) had to switch to free Skype calls, and by discovering the benefits (including video calling) they kept using it and made mouth to mouth publicity.
  2. The growth of the emerging countries, where money is still an issue, and free calls is still an advantage.
  3. Video calling! Almost all computers have now an imbedded webcam, and I guess Skype is one of the main reasons for it!
Look at the good quality of the snapshot I made of a Skype call from Belgium to Brazil some months ago, amazing:

I had sometimes better image quality and often worse, but still … being able to call somebody and see his or her face, FOR FREE … waw!

Is the 16 billion minutes growth compared to 2009 good news for the Phone companies? Not really, there is growth in minutes, but there is also a fierce competition in lowering prices, therefore I guess their revenues are not raising!

Is this good for Skype in the long run? If they can monetize their services in some way, yes. But they said: Skype to Skype calls will always be free! And I believe most new users are only interested in the free voice + video features, including me!