Skype@10: A tumultous journey
Skype is celebrating its tenth anniversary today. Its been a tumultuous 10 years for the video chat messaging service, that has managed to make communication easier for people from any part of the world. According to FT.com, Scandinavian founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis started the software service in 2003 from a Soviet-era university block in Tallinn, Estonia with the simple slogan, “Free internet telephone that just works.” After a shaky start with dubious call quality within 3 months Skype was downloaded 500,000 times and boasted of approximately 1.5 million users. And the rest as they say is history.
The idea to make calls to loved ones living in different cities, countries, continents is not a new one. International calling had already made making calls cheaper. But nothing had been introduced which offered free video calling service. The Scandinavian duo expanded to peer-to-peer technology and came up with high video and voice quality chat messaging service that could be available to an user online. Skype’s primary focus was good video quality. The secondary aim was instant messaging. This has helped Skype maintain its identity since a host of chat messaging apps have sprung up since Skype such as Whatsapp and Viber. A Skype spokesperson told Metro.co.uk that “In just ten short years, Skype has changed human relationships around the globe by helping people do things together whenever they are apart.”
Skype was bought by auction website eBay for £1.6billion in 2005. In 2009, 70 per cent of it was sold to private equity for £1.3billion. In 2011, Steve Ballmer led by Microsoft entered a bidding war and offered to acquire Skype for £5.2billion. Under Microsoft’s reign the company has managed to increase its users to 300 million as of February 2013 up from 200 million.
However, with every success story comes challenges. Skype has been accused of not innovating enough in the past few years. According to one industry analysts this may be the reason why its been under so many bigger company acquisitions. Another issue is that the video chat service is sometimes used by people with less than genuine intentions. There have been several reports of sex scandals and abuse inflicted by using the online service. For instance, the recent ADFA sex scandal involving two Australian cadets shocked the world.
Despite these controversies Skype has helped more people that cause harm. From mother-daughter conversations over Skype heald over separate continents to A father witnessing the birth of his daughter over Skype, it has try changed the way we communication. Some say that Skype may be the the best available technology platform but it provided an easy interface and gave people what they wanted. This was the main reason for the enormous success of Skype. The fact that it accounts for a third of international calls says something.
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