Video communications have become an integral part of modern life – whether it’s conferencing with business partners or chatting with family members who live 1,000 miles away. Apple has contributed to the surge in Wi-Fi enabled video communications with FaceTime for iPhone and iPad, but many other companies have contributed to the spike in video. For a decade, Skype has been at the forefront of voice over IP (VOIP) technologies that allow us to communicate in a variety of ways using audio, video and instant messaging.
Here at Slingshot SEO, we use the Skype chat functions for individuals and teams. Using Skype allows us to communicate quickly and frequently over the course of the day – voicing ideas, asking questions and working together to solve problems – whether we happen to be working in Indianapolis or traveling to another state for a client presentation.
Written by a trio of Estonian developers, Skype was first released in public beta back in August 2003. Their software has had a large impact on modern communications over the past decade — allowing us to communicate by voice, video webcam and instant messaging. For video, it takes just an Internet connection, a webcam and a computer or other device with audio capabilities; this allows families and other groups worldwide to communicate in video chats.
Technologies developed by Skype have long attracted the eyes of larger companies. eBay acquired Skype in 2005 for $2.6 billion as part of a strategy to enhance communications between buyers and sellers. Six years later, eBay claimed to have made a total return of $1.4 billion on its original investment. Later, Microsoft bought Skype from investors led by private equity firm Silver Lake, the largest investor in a group that bought 70 percent of the company from eBay in 2009.
In the $8.5 billion Skype deal, Microsoft bought a company with hundreds of millions of users that had yet to become profitable. Many observers have argued that Microsoft overpaid for Skype and questioned whether the tech titan will be able to properly monetize it; however, Skype has since rolled out in-app advertising and upgraded its infrastructure. Moreover, video calling is a hot trend as smartphone and tablet sales continue to climb.
This year brings a fresh set of challenges and opportunities for Skype. Millions of us are looking for new ways to efficiently collaborate with peers and communicate with loved ones, and Skype offers everything from group chat to file sharing. Yet like many other tech companies, Skype must navigate some dangerous waters involving issues like user privacy as it seeks profits amidst a competitive tech landscape.
What are your thoughts about Skype? Does your company use it for communication, or are there other preferred alternatives? Do you personally use Skype to communicate with friends and family? We’d love to hear your comments about Skype, Microsoft or voice over IP technologies.