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Skype--an eBay company, headquartered in Luxembourg (with several offices located throughout the world)--began in 2003, and was founded by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. Skype is an online communciation tool that you can use to talk to anyone anywhere in the world. You can use it as an instant messaging service, or as a telephone... with a special Skype phone or traditional headset. It even works for video calls. Calls to and from other Skype members are free. Calls made to and from cell phones or land line phones are charged at a per-minute rate, unless you are paying a monthly fee ($2.95/month gets you unlimited calls in the USA) that will get you unlimited calls (within the fair use policy.) There are also plans for unlimited international use.
Since the dawn of the first version of the program, the Skype community continues to grow, offering a wide variety of features and services used in conjunction with the program. These are:
- Skype-In: This program allows people using landline phones to reach a Skype user on his or her computer via a regular telephone number. The telephone number can be assigned for 3 months at a time for $12, or $24 for an entire year. Numbers are available all over the United States, and in several countries worldwide.
- Voice Conferencing: This feature was introduced in 2006 and allows customers to hold video conference calls with other Skype users. This feature became available for the Linux OS in early 2008.
- Skype To Go: The newest feature available to Skype Pro users, allows people to make international calls from their mobile phones, at the Skype-Out rate they use for all calls from their computer.
- Skype Mobile: In April 2008, Skype released Mobile Skype, compatible with around 50 different phones. The list of compatible phones continues to grow as programming and technology continue to sync.
- In 2009, SIP or Skype for Business is released.
- In April 2009, eBay announced a plan to spin off of Skype.
- In May 2010, Skype 5.0 BETA is released.
- In May 2010, Skype for Apple's iPhone app is released.
Throughout the last five years, Skype has grown from a small program that very few people knew of to a very useful program with lots of features that millions of people all over the world use each day.
A Brief History of Skype
The Brief History series of articles summarizes products and applications in the messaging and collaboration realm.