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Skype (/skaɪp/) is a proprietary telecommunications application that specializes in providing video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices, the Xbox One console, and smartwatches over the Internet. Skype also provides instant messaging services. Users may transmit text, video, audio and images. Skype allows video conference calls.
At the end of 2010, there were over 660 million worldwide users, with over 300 million estimated active each month as of August 2015. At one point in February 2012, there were 34 million users concurrently online on Skype.
In March 2020, Skype was used by 100 million people on a monthly basis and by 40 million people on a daily basis, which was a 70% increase in the number of daily users from the previous month, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
First released in August 2003, Skype was created by the Swede Niklas Zennström and the Dane Janus Friis, in cooperation with Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, Jaan Tallinn, and Toivo Annus, Estonians who developed the peer-to-peer backend that was also used in the music-sharing application Kazaa. In September 2005, eBay acquired Skype for $2.6 billion. In September 2009, Silver Lake, Andreessen Horowitz, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board announced the acquisition of 65% of Skype for $1.9 billion from eBay, which attributed to the enterprise a market value of $2.92 billion. Microsoft bought Skype in May 2011 for $8.5 billion. Skype's division headquarters are in Luxembourg, but most of the development team and 44% of all the division's employees are still situated in Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia.
Skype allows users to communicate over the Internet by voice, using a microphone, by video using a webcam, and by instant messaging. Skype implements a freemium business model with Skype-to-Skype calls being free of charge, while calls to landline telephones and mobile phones (over traditional telephone networks) are charged via a debit-based user account system called Skype Credit. Some network administrators have banned Skype on corporate, government, home, and education networks, citing such reasons as inappropriate usage of resources, excessive bandwidth usage and security concerns.
Skype originally featured a hybrid peer-to-peer and client–server system. Skype has been powered entirely by Microsoft-operated supernodes since May 2012. The 2013 mass surveillance disclosures revealed that Microsoft had granted intelligence agencies unfettered access to supernodes and Skype communication content.
Throughout 2016 and 2017, Microsoft redesigned its Skype clients in a way that transitioned Skype from peer-to-peer service to a centralized Azure service and adjusted the user interfaces of apps to make text-based messaging more prominent than voice calling. Skype for Windows, iOS, Android, Mac and Linux received significant, visible overhauls.
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