What is Skype?

Skype can be used across multiple platforms.  Editorial credit: Alexey Boldin / Shutterstock.com
Skype can be used across multiple platforms. Editorial credit: Alexey Boldin / Shutterstock.com

Skype is a social media application which provides users with the ability to have video chats, conference calls, and group chats. The messaging application allows its subscribers to communicate through voice calls and messaging. An audio codec is necessary when making telephone calls and conference calling. These features can be used between twenty-five people for free. In 2003, Niklas Zennstrom from Sweden and Janus Friis from Denmark came up with the idea, and its program was created by Estonians Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn. Skype has grown to become one of the most popular communications applications in the world, and its usage is expanding as the years go.

History of Skype

Skype has been acquired by different blue-chip companies starting with eBay on September 12, 2005 for 2.5 billion dollars. In September 2009, 65% of the company was sold for 2.75 billion dollars to Silver Lake, Andreesssen Horowitz, and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board. In May 2011, Microsoft came calling with a whopping 8.5 billion dollar acquisition of Skype communications.

Following that acquisition by the Microsoft Corporation, Skype has undergone improvements into its technologies that have made it easier and more fun to use. Microsoft had to discontinue two of its products to focus on developing Skype: Windows Live Messenger on April 30, 2013 after a period of transition that started on the 8th of that month, and Lync in an announcement made on the November 11, 2014.

Challenges Faced by Skype

There are several challenges that development of Skype has faced over years, for instance on September 2016, employees at London office lost their jobs when it was closed; more than two hundred employees were sacked to focus on further development of the program. It also could not provide emergency numbers to its clients in Europe, India, Nepal and North America. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also ruled out the claims in public domain that it was the primary provider of interconnected ViOP to Skype. All Skype users in America were encouraged to have emergency backup after the ruling, which considered section 255 of the telecommunications act.

Skype has faced allegations of data security and privacy in the past years. An article published in November 2012 explained a loophole in the program’s security which allowed a person to hack into another Skype user’s account by using the user’s email, with the article providing seven steps to do so. This vulnerability was claimed to have existed long before the publishing of the article. In 2013, the massive disclosure of the surveillance done by the National Security Agency and the FBI showed that these agencies had unfettered access to Skype’s data storage centers and it has been collecting data as from March 31st 2011.

Despite the challenges faced, the number of Skype users are increasing. Its traffic has increased from 2.9% in 2005 to 40% in 2014. The application can be used by smartphones through versions tailor made to suite android, apple, blackberry and Nokia X. There is also a desktop version for those with computers i.e OS X.


More in Did You Know