Skype is the technology du jour. As a social media application focused on video conferencing, Skype has revolutionized the way we communicate. It is a tool for global collaboration which allows people worldwide to connect on a more personal level.
Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet. And yes, ladies and gentleman, this service is (basically) free. The company's founders, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, launched Skype as the telecommunication company of the future in 2003. As Friis announced at the Skype launch, “We hope that one day, instead of saying ‘I’ll call you’, people will say ‘I’ll Skype you’.” After only one month, one million people had downloaded the software. Fast forward six months, Skype had grown to a staggering six million users. Currently, there are 196,000,000 registered users.
Skype remains the world’s fastest-growing Internet communication offering, allowing people everywhere to make unlimited voice and video calls for free between the users of Skype software. The program is available free of charge on Skype’s website and can be downloaded in the span of minutes. Building on their theme of inclusion through worldwide communication, Skype is available in 27 languages and is used in almost every country around the world. Anyone can Skype - it is user friendly for every age.
In 2005, Skype was sold to eBay for approximately $2.6 billion. Today, the social media site is only worth $2.75 billion, after eBay sold 65% of Skype for under market value.
The basic functions Skype provides, making and receiving video calls from the Internet and instant messaging, are free. After easily adding people to your contact list, you have the option to chat in a traditional message box, or hit the call button to initiate a video call. For those of you without a webcam, don’t fret as Skype allows you to make one-way video chats and/or voice calls. This free service is truly amazing, as it allows you to keep in touch with friends around the globe.
Like all companies, Skype must generate revenue. To do this, Skype offers customers premium service, SkypeOut, for a fee. Some of these premium features include making and receiving calls to and from landlines and mobile phones, voicemail, call forwarding and personalization including ringtones and avatars. With “SkypeOut”, users dial a regular phone for a low per-minute charge. “SkypeIn” lets people worldwide call a Skype subscriber from a regular telephone by dialing a local Skype phone number. In the past month, Skype was introduced as a new iPhone app, furthering the ability for people to connect.
Skype has revolutionized the business world. Practitioners who are separated by geographical distance are able to video conference and complete their objectives. This is especially valuable for us public relations practitioners as we are all focused on communication. Skype allows PR professionals to connect with a variety of sources, including media, colleagues and contacts on a more personal level.
Helping Skype develop an even stronger following is the Big O herself, Oprah Winfrey. In March 2008, Oprah began using Skype to connect with celebrities and us regular folk. But it was on the May 21, 2009 show entitled “Where the Skype Are You” that the talk show host pushed the limits of the Skype. She showed how Skype can connect people in remote places such as the Arctic and Antarctic, on board USS Louisville six stories below the Pacific of Hawaii and on board a Virgin America plane 37,000 feet above San Francisco. “I just love Skype. Love it. Love Skype,” Miss Winfrey said. And like all things Oprah mentions, Skype turned to gold.
Skype you later?
To see videos from Oprah's "Where the Skype Are You" show, click here.