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Impacts of Skype growth

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SkypeJournal guest blogger Jean Mercier has an interesting story about the continuing growth of Skype.

Stats on numbers of downloads of the app you install on your computer to actually use the service – now approaching 300 million according to a graph in Jean’s post – plus numbers and commentary on a topic I found especially interesting: growth in the number of Skype users logged in to the service at any one time.

According to Jean’s post, that number hit the 6 million mark on the 27th of March. That made me look at the bottom right-hand corner of the Skype app that I have running (a new version for Windows was released today, incidentally) and, at about 5pm CET, it showed this:

First time I’ve noticed that.

Jean goes on to talk about where most Skype users are – Western Europe and North and South America, he says – and the peak time in a given day when the most Skype users are logged in. That appears to be around 4pm GMT (6pm CET and 9am Shel’s time in California) and later.

Why is that interesting to me? Well, that’s about the time Shel and I start recording FIR, our bi-weekly podcast, over Skype. Could that peak load of users be causing a strain on the internet/P2P network somewhere that impacts the quality of our Skype call as Shel hears it (he does the actual recording at his end) and as listeners to our podcast may then notice in the MP3 file? We’ve experienced intermittent poor call quality in recent shows.

I’m asking the question, by the way, not providing the answer : )

Anyway, Skype has been an essential part of our podcast since we started it in January last year. But in last Monday’s show, we used a different VoIP app for the first time – Gizmo.

I’m not convinced it will do a better job than Skype, although Shel’s the better judge of that. Plus, I have a lot invested in Skype (meaning, SkypeIn numbers, voicemail, Linksys Skype phone, etc) so any alternative would have to be extremely compelling to make me consider switching. And from where I sit here in Europe, I still don’t see anything else at all compelling compared to Skype.

Yesterday, the FT published two pretty interesting features about Skype.

The first one, an interview with Skype CEO Niklas Zennestrom, is interesting to learn of some of the rather ordinary’ organizational issues that a CEO has to address in any company and especially one that is experiencing rapid growth.

The second could be quite contentious as it speaks of Skype text messaging being censored in China. Remember the Google censorship in China issue a few months ago? No easy answers but loads of opinions.

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Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.

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