Skype Crests 280 Million Users


Microsoft is seeing its Skype acquisition pay off in terms of usage increase, though it remains to be seen if that actually adds up to bona fide revenue. In its quarterly earnings report, the company announced that Skype’s usage had grown to over 280 million users, adding more than 30 million users since late May. Microsoft did not mention, however, how much it had actually earned through Skype in the report, so no word on whether that $8.5 billion the company paid to acquire Skype last year is paying its own way.

Skype usage, however, has reached a skyrocketing trajectory. Microsoft revealed that over 120 billion minutes of Skype usage had been tallied, contributing to a year over year increase of 58 percent.

Microsoft has been integrating Skype into more of its products, including its Xbox 360 console, Windows 8 and a Windows 8 phone, with an early version of Skype for Windows 8 phone recently making rounds on the Internet. The company also plans to use Skype in its Office 2013 productivity suite expected to launch early next year.

Though owned by Microsoft, Skype managed to maintain its own autonomy in the deal, with former CEO Tony Bates becoming president of Microsoft’s Skype division. The company also retained its offices in Silicon Valley, and is the only Microsoft entity to operate its base outside of Microsoft’s Seattle home base. Such independence has allowed Skype to release applications for competitors such as Mac and iOS, preventing the company from being pigeonholed in the Office vs. Mac wars.

It remains to be seen if Microsoft’s purchase of the company was a wise one. Usage doesn’t always add up to revenue, though Skype’s position as a VoIP service certainly helps Microsoft better compete. The company has been struggling in a market of waning desktop sales. Microsoft reported revenue of just over $16 billion in revenue for the first quarter of 2012, down from the just over $17 billion in revenue reported for the first quarter of 2011. The company claims its upcoming release of Windows 8 will help turn that around, in part propelled with its Skype integration.

“The launch of Windows 8 is the beginning of a new era at Microsoft,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “Investments we’ve made over a number of years are now coming together to create a future of exceptional devices and services, with tremendous opportunity for our customers, developers, and partners.”