There have been over 200 millions downloads of the Skype VoIP client and it's estimated that there over 50 million regular users. If you own a laptop computer you've almost certainly used Skype.
The compelling features of Skype VoIP include:
While sound quality is often less than perfect, it's adequate. Given that it's free, it's more than adequate. There are also occasions when there are brief outages, but in August 2007 a set of circumstances conspired to manifest a 36 hour outage.
The word Skype has now become a verb that pops up in conversations everywhere and in every language. Skype and VoIP have become synonymous. For many it's the answer to the question, "what is VoIP?"
It's clear that Skype is an evolving technology. Blue tooth headsets, web cams and Skype phones were stage one. Mobility will be the theme of future developments.
The success of Skype has attracted competitors and emulators including: VoIPcheap, Project Gizmo, Babble and Jajah, but there are deep pockets backing the Skype brand. It's now owned by eBay.
Another outcome of its success is that Skype has become a target for hackers and malware publishers. It's yet another front that needs defending against assaults on laptop security. In the main these assaults have been focused on using Skype IM (instant messaging) as a vector to spread malware. Examples include the worm Ramex (also known as Skipi or Pykspa), which links to a graphic file that carries a payload charged with disabling anti-malware software. Potentially a Trojan horse can use Skype as a conduit to siphon off information from a host PC or Mac. VoIP security is a topic of growing concern, but there is no reason at this stage to suspect that the risks are any greater than using email.
Business Skype has been widely adopted by the corporate world. Free VoIP calls are of interest to everyone. It's not just for personal use. SkypeOut provides an inexpensive way of calling regular telephones and mobiles. In combination with its easy to use conferencing option it's a killer application. The global trend toward increased broadband uptake and ubiquitous wireless will certainly result in the continued take up of Skype. and other forms of VoIP technology.
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