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Essay: The Revolutionary Inventions of Skype – From Kazaa to Microsoft's Billion Dollar Acquisition

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  • Published: 25 February 2023*
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  • Words: 879 (approx)
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  • Tags: Microsoft essays

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Skype is a peer-to-peer VoIP client that allows its users to place voice calls and send text messages to other users of Skype clients. (A. Baset, 2004) It is a telecommunication software that enables its’ users to connect through video calls, audio calls, and text messages from other users across the globe. It is accessible in laptops, computers, smartphones, tablets and more. This software could be accessed at any time of the day, so long as both users are ‘online.’ The purpose of Skype that we know of today, isn’t what it was before.

2003 marked the birth of Skype, was developed by Niklas Zenneström and Janus Friis. It all began when Zenneström and Friis were assigned to launch an online platform for their employer. A group of Estonian programmers were recruited to help them finish the task in a targeted time. However, the platform failed. Zenneström and Friis then decided to venture on their own, whilst keepSing the same group to follow along with them. Starting out with a peer-to-peer file-sharing program called Kazaa, the software was meant to be the the exact equivalent to piracy-centric Napster. To their misfortune, the entertainment industry refused to accept their services and responded with a bombardment of legal actions. (Decker, 2018)

Years has passed since the companies that helped in irreversibly ruining the music and film industry took over the world, yet the mark that they left behind could still be felt until today. Before Skype, just as Napster was being shut down for allowing illegal sharing of music files, the software was named as Kazaa in the early 2000s. The The basic structure of a peer-to-peer file sharing network is that whoever’s on the network is connected to everyone else on the network, with no official, central server or group of servers sitting in the middle holding all the files. The more people who are on the network, the faster the network can send files back and forth. And the more people who have the same file on their computer, the faster it could be sent to someone trying to download it. (Aamoth, 2018)

Now, how do we get from Kazaa, an illegal file sharing software, to Skype, a completely legal telecommunication software? In August 2003, Skype, or Kazaa, at the time was originally discovered by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. The both of them then employed a group of Estonians to develop the software. February 2004 was when Skype first released the audio conference calling feature, which then led them to publicly release Skype for Mac to the public in August that year. From there, we saw 1.5 million downloads and 100, 000 active users on Skype in October. (The History Of Skype, 2018)

In 2005, Skype launched for Linux, which got them further success with reaching 10 million Skype-to-Skype calls. September that year, eBay bought off Skype for $3.1 billion dollars, which the company then sold majority of its stake in 2009 to a private investment group for $1.2 billion, less than it paid. (Bright, 2011) 2006 kicked off with Skype launching its software app for Windows. A month later, they announced a 10-way conference calling on PCs. Later on that year in May, the SMS, or more known as the texting feature was available on Windows. Skype then introduced its first calling subscriptions in December.

June 2007 was the debut of Skype To Go. In October that year, 3 Skypephone was introduced with 3, a mobile UK carrier. Later on, Logitech introduces high-quality video usage on Skype. In March 2009, Skype first launched the Skype iPhone application which immediately got several attempts to ban or restrict the use of Skype on mobile phones by a number of mobile network operators. (Datta and Lo, 2013) 2010 and beyond saw a lot of new updates and features being added to Skype, especially with the rise of new technological advancements. As well as the speedy development of Wi-Fi as well as production of smartphones and tablets, Skype has been made easier to use than before. Skype was also then launched and made available on Android devices.

May 2011 was when Microsoft first announced its plans to take over the now popular software. Alas, on October the global company bought Skype with a cash offer of $8.6 billion. (Bright, 2011) In 2012, Skype had acquired around 30% of the world’s international telephone market. (Telegeography.com, 2014), (Mazurczyk, Karaś and Szczypiorsk, n.d.)

Skype since has then played a significant role in connecting people from all the world. Not only is it used to communicate with people on a global scale, it is also widely used for other purposes as well. Skype was simple to use for both lecturers and students alike. One of the pros was the screen-share feature that allowed lecturers to share their computer screen and also for students to see them via the webcam. (Day, 2015)  On top of that, Skype also has a role in improving its access to psychotherapies for communities living in rural areas or people with limited access to a nearby medical centre. (Bell, F. L. 2013) Many other software was released along the years but up until today, personally, nothing beats the efficiency and the convenience of Skype. Easy to use and extremely user friendly. The invention of Skype was undoubtedly a revolutionary invention, and a necessary one too. Communication has never been easier thanks to Skype.

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