Skype is an application that enables users to make voice calls over the Internet. For a Skype user placing a call to another Skype user, the service is free, but for Skype users placing a call to landlines and mobile phones, there is a fee. The software program for Skype is free to download (freeware), which aside from voice calls, enables users to engage in video conferencing, file sharing and chat.
Skype was founded by Niklas Zennstrom from Sweden and Janues Friis from Norway. Skype was originally named ‘Sky Peer-to-peer’, which was eventually shortened to ‘Skyper’. However, upon checking by the development team, the domain ‘Skyper’ was not available as a domain and thus was changed to Skype. The Skype founders and developers are also responsible for the development of the peer-to-peer file sharing network Kazaa.
When users register with Skype, they are asked to provide a Skype name which functions as their screen names. They then have the option to make their information public (included in the Skyper directory) or private. When placing a Skype to Skype call, a user simply has to connect to the name of the person they wish to converse with. For landline or mobile phone calls, the actual phone number is dialed and a fee is paid through debit.
Users can also have an online number, also known as a SkypeIn to allow regular phones to contact them via the computer. The SkypeIn is dialed just like any other phone number. Currently, this service is only limited to certain countries. Countries which has this service include: Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, the UK and the USA.
Currently, Skype operates under the business name Skype Limited and is based in Luxembourg. Skype Limited is partly owned by online auction giant eBay.