A country called Skype

According to a recent post of VoIP-News, a new telephone country code for VoIP users will be created. The company called VoxBone, based in Brussels, Belgium, succeeded in obtaining that number. It means that you could call any VoIP number from a classic telephone line by dialing 833 plus the VoIP number of your contact. Read the whole story here: Creating A Country Called VoIP.
Surprisingly, they say “The goal is that if you call someone on Skype, you dial 883 plus their number”. But, Skype accounts are not numbers, it are alphanumeric user names. This would mean the user name would have to be translated to a number.

Interesting, because – if true - anyone could call my Skype account from any cellular or PSTN phone and reach me wherever i am online and running Skype.

This could mean a new boost in Skype users, and consequently perhaps a new boost in the “revenue generating” voicemail feature of Skype. Indeed, although the Skype client is free, and Skype to Skype calls alike, for the voicemail you have to pay a subscription fee.

Or will Skype sell the VoIP numbers corresponding to the Skype user names? This could also generate revenue, but i think it would be a strategic mistake to ask customers to pay for their number. Revenue will be generated anyway, because the article says: "The carriers will have to pay Voxbone to complete the calls, and Voxbone will share those revenues with the VoIP companies."

[EDITED] Vincent made the following comment: “That is almost the same as SkypeIN, which exists since many years.
Yes, and no …
A SkypeIn number is "country dependent", and exists only for 21 countries! A “VoIP country” would be universal, no agreement needed between Skype and separate countries! Definitely an advantage, depending on the cost for calling the new country!

It seems that Skype already is preparing a flag for that new VoIP country! Two recently added hidden emoticons are and . The first one is the European Union flag: type (flag:eu) in your chat window, and the second one, well i guess you guess it … type (flag:ss) in the chat window!


World Online or asleep

You can find almost everything on internet. The information is probably not always reliable, but by comparing different sources, you can eliminate the scrap.

I made a search of world population by time zone, but no site did provide me with the complete picture. But, you can find many sites with population by country, and you can find sites with the population by regional and/or time zone in a specific country (Russia, Canada, Brasil, USA, and some others). Wikipedia is often a very good information source. I even found the information concerning some smaller islands.

Then i plotted the following graph: those countries and regions that are simultaneously living between “9:00 AM and 23:00 PM” or in other words the sum of people who are “awake”. See the green curve below (left scale).For instance: at 0 GMT, you have about 4 billion people awake at the same time (and a lot of Chinese people and other Asians), and at 15:30 GMT you have 6 billion people awake, in fact almost everybody, less the relatively scarcely populated Pacific Zone.

The blue curve (right scale) is the daily fluctuation of concurrent Skype users online in a typical day some months ago. The curves have similar shapes. But, the Asian peak is much higher in the world population chart (beware, scales are different!).

Why the difference? In Asia lesser people have access to Internet. This explains probably why the Skype “Asian peak” is proportionally much lower then the “People Awake” curve.

What if i had the internet users by time zone? Would that bring the curves closer to each other?

Well, i dug deeper, and found also data about the internet users by country, but “less” exploitable. I had to make for instance the “probably” false guess that the internet penetration in Russia is the same all over the whole country.

Here the graph …Almost the same shape as the previous one.

What if i had only the broadband users by country and region? Would that graph come closer the Skype graph? Pity, i didn’t find reliable complete data by country yet!


In memoriam: Russell Shaw

He was one of the best known bloggers in the Skype Blogosphere, and certainly a Skype believer.

I discovered through the Skype blogs that he died: Farewell Russell Shaw.

A pity … and we were reading each others blogs. He once gave me a very nice compliment, saying that my “numerology blog” was “a real useful obsession”.

My condolences to his family.


Group Chats

Ike [Skype Staff] and Tomi [Skype Beta Tester] pointed me to an interesting poll in the Skype forums (click here) about the usage of Group Chats.
In view of the number of votes, the graph is right now not statistically relevant. Moreover, the respondents are mainly very heavy Skype users (Staff, Super Users, Moderators), so it is quite biased. My guess is that most Skype users don’t use Group Chats at all!

But, Group Chats are useful, the same as conference calls, and perhaps even more. Just suppose you are working with some family members or colleagues on an event or a project …
  • You can ask a question or make a comment concerning your project even if some or offline;
  • Those who were offline can read the previous messages when they come back online, and add relevant information to the chat;
  • Chat history and messages are saved, so you can dig in the story and evolution of the project or event preparation (to find back why “this”, or when “that”);
  • Unlike a conference call, you don’t have to be all together available at the same moment.
The drawbacks are:
  • Not everyone uses Skype (not all of my family members for instance);
  • Quite a lot of the bigger companies block Skype, therefore it isn't used in a multi-company environment.
But, it is indeed a very useful feature!


Skype contributed to eBay!

According to eBay …
"Direct contribution consists of net revenues from external customers less direct costs. Direct costs include specific costs of net revenues, sales and marketing expenses, and general and administrative expenses over which segment managers have direct discretionary control …”.

The following graph shows the evolution of the contribution as well in US dollar as in euro (€) quarter per quarter:Skype had a 15% contribution compared to revenue in the last quarter, and 12% for the whole year. Not bad, not spectacular however. But Skype indeed contributed to the eBay revenue in 2007, and this for the first time!

Per registered user account this represents ONLY 0.06 US$ per user for the last quarter (as Skype says in its marketing communication), or per registered user account (as it mentions correctly in the explanation of the data). This is 0.18 US$ for the whole year (2007)!
If we correct this, and only take the estimated “active or real” user (see one of my previous posts here) this number is however quite different: 1.68 US$ or 1.18 € contribution per active user in 2007!

Thanks to Sascha Vitzthum, who made me “discover” this contribution number on the eBay websites.


The Oprah effect

A lot of fuss about Oprah Winfrey using Skype for a Webcast, just “google” it. But it probably explains why the downloads of the Skype client are showing a significant increase:
  • Around 500 downloads per minute with occasional peaks of 750 in the last months
  • Now (since the end of February) around 1000 downloads per minute, with occasional peaks of more than 1500.
Look at the slope of the picture below:

Will the Oprah fans remain Skype customers? Hopefully for Skype, but to be honest this will be mainly an American phenomenon: i didn’t know who she was before this campaign! And although i believe the Skype blog that there were registrants all over the world, i guess the proportion of non-US Americans is quite limited!
I am curious to see if this affects the growth of users online, but it is early to say something about it. What i know is that the increase of this last metric is very good since the beginning of the year!