HD Voice News

Skype’s “registered users” party line its own worst enemy today

Earlier this week, I was on a conference call for the Avaya/Skype “strategic relationship” announcement and it was so special (NOT!) to hear at least one of the reporters/analysts on the line regurgitating the whole “after all, Skype has over 500 million registered users” line.

*sigh*  Even Skype has abandoned this form of messaging – as evidenced by the Skype-spokeperson’s cite of 124 millionish “average active users” this month – but it persists.  And that’s after the S-1 filing just went and blew holes in the whole “registered users” number.

In the beginning, Skype cited “registered users” as its primary statistic for usage since it was the biggest number they could throw out there.  Two years ago, I heard at least one person who should have known better rattle it off as he touted a relationship between Skype and his company; at the time “registered users” were over 400 million.

If you’ve looked at the S-1, registered users are basically the number of user IDs people have put into the system to call other people and have no reflection on the actual number of people making phone calls and paying for services. It’s like saying “There’s over 500 million license plates out there” but that doesn’t tell me how many of those license plates are on the road at any given time – or hanging on the wall in a bar somewhere.

Someone on Wall Street probably called Skype on it, because the company now throws out the “average active users” number; i.e. people ACTUALLY using Skype in any given month, and that number seems to be hovering around 125 million or so – a factor of FOUR smaller than the whole registered user number.

Heck, I probably have at least 3-4 Skype userIDs I’ve set up and forgotten about over the years.

The best non-brainwash number to focus on when it comes to Skype’s profitability and business viability is the number of PAYING users… around 9 million or so.  Which is still a good number, and not surrounded by the bull, er misrepresentation of the “registered users” concept.

Sooner or later, I’m going to be in a public forum and someone is going to whip out “registered users” and I’m going to start shouting profanities…

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