Thursday, 08 March 2007 07:58

Wow: 500 million downloads of Skype and counting


eBay, the company that paid billions for Internet phone company Skype, has just celebrated Skype’s half billionth download, making it one of the most popular free downloads ever.

Global Internet comms company Skype, owned by global online auction house eBay, has just announced that Skype has been downloaded half a billion times by eager broadband users wanting to make free or inexpensive phone calls to anyone.

Skype has put the fear of God into the world’s telecommunications companies who can see Skype traffic on their network, but can do little about it, fearing a massive backlash from consumers should they dare to block or otherwise interfere with Skype traffic.

Skype has achieve their impressive milestone in just over 42 months, which Skype counts from when they introduced the first beta at the end of August 2003.

Skype CEO and co-founder Niklas Zennström, a man also busy with cultivating the Joost IPTV empire, said that “The entire Skype team owes its success to the global community of registered users we have today who tell their loved ones how much they enjoy using Skype.  We’re absolutely delighted that so many people are embracing Skype and speaking to friends or family all over the world for free or very little cost.”

Today, Skype users do more than just talk – they use Skype in many ways: free voice, video, conference calling and instant messaging communication, as well as Skype’s paid-for products including Skype Pro.  

Skype also recently launched the “Skype Pro”  package which offers ‘zero cents per minute calls’ to domestic landlines along with a series of premium Skype features and discounts on Skype Certified hardware, although in most cases a small connection fee applies. The Skype Pro service is currently only available in selected European countries but is due to be rolled out elsewhere in the world progressively over 2007.

Skype have supplied some interesting statistics:

- Six people download Skype every second
- Skype to Skype minutes in Q4 2006 alone totaled 7.6 billion minutes
- In September 2005, Skype had 54 million registered users and today it has over 171 million registered users worldwide

All we can say is… thank goodness for Skype! We love it, and up to half a billion other people do, too.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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