by Mike Masnick

Still Waiting To See The Magical Synergies Of The eBay-Skype Merger

from the still-waiting... dept

Plenty of folks were pretty damn skeptical when eBay bought Skype last year for somewhere between $2.6 billion and $4.1 billion (depending on various milestones). After all, none of official reasons given for the deal made that much sense. The company touted two main things. First, that since many Skype users were in China and many eBay users were in the US, it would somehow open up new markets for eBay by encouraging Chinese Skype users to use eBay. Why? That part was missing, and it hasn't helped much that China has threatened to ban Skype at times. The other big reason was that it would let eBay buyers and sellers chat with each other by voice -- but, again, this made little sense since neither side has seemed particularly interested in talking to each other.

Now the International Herald Tribune has written up an article looking back at the Skype-eBay deal to see how it's gone. The article tries to be balanced, talking to some people who think it still doesn't make sense, and others who think it was a good deal -- but they offer up little to actually support that. The numbers they throw out are for "downloads," a number that pre-eBay Skype used to toss around for hype purposes, but which are effectively meaningless. The IHT falls into the trap, though, comparing the number of downloads to the total number of worldwide internet users -- never once questioning how many people may have downloaded the software multiple times, how many people downloaded the software and never used it, or how many people checked it out and then stopped using it. If downloads were all that mattered, Skype could just set up a program to keep downloading more copies. What matters is users -- and paying users -- and on that note it looks like Skype may be plateauing. Total voice calls actually dropped last quarter, and despite the number of downloads, if you log into Skype the number of other users listed being online hasn't really changed very much over the past year. In other words, we're still no closer to understanding what value eBay saw in Skype, and it's not clear that anyone at eBay really knows either.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Jesper, Nov 13th, 2006 @ 2:41am

    Forced use of paypal

    I have oftentimes wondered if ebays plan is to get more paypal users through Skype, since they have made it close to impossible to pay for SkypeOut (Skype to regular networks) with ordinary credit cards (visa in my case).

    I have half my familiy living in another country and would use SkypeOut regularily, if I could, but it keeps refusing payment by credit cards, that seem to work nicely everywhere else on the web - and then suggest, that I try paypal instead.

    I've talked to loads of people, who all have the same problem. I'm not calling a conspiracy here, but you would think that others companys without their own payment system would act, if their clients were unable to transfer money to their account.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    McGrump, Nov 13th, 2006 @ 3:43am

    Re: Forced use of paypal

    what is it, with people, who like, to put, far too many commas in, sentences, for no reason, so that, the flow, of, the sentence, is dam, a, ged?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 13th, 2006 @ 4:13am

    Re: Re: Forced use of paypal

    People who speak english as their third and not first language ... ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    derp, Nov 13th, 2006 @ 4:50am

    Forced to read worthless crap.

    What is it with people who comment on other peoples post, and never contribute to the discussion, other than to bring it down?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Very Articles, Nov 13th, 2006 @ 5:24am

    people who comment on other peoples post

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Chamelelon Headsets, Nov 13th, 2006 @ 5:30am

    eBay & Skype.. a lonely couple

    It seems the same to us, too.. What _exactly_ is Skype doing for eay subscribers..? At the purchase, there was mention of "branding", aBnd eBay offering "robust services".. To date. it doesn't seem like eBay's made a dime on all this. Just our take. Chameleon Headsets http://www.chameleonheadsets.com http://wirelessspeech.blogspot.com

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    inresponse, Nov 13th, 2006 @ 8:47am

    Check out other options

    Jesper, I have family living abroad, too. I have been using onesuite.com for over 4 years now and have no complaints about them. It's a prepaid calling service you can use from any phone, some cool features too boot (ie pin skip) and has the best reates I've been able to find (2.9 to 3.9 cents a minute to most places in Europe).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 13th, 2006 @ 9:01am

    Re: eBay & Skype.. a lonely couple

    Nice advertisement. I'll be sure to never go there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    BiraRai, Nov 13th, 2006 @ 9:13am

    free calls

    Yes, Yes, Yes, the whole ebay / skype deal never made sense to anyone. For the past 8 months skypes been offering free call into the PSTN network. If eBay wants to buy a company for 4.6 billion and provide free telephone service to the public, far be it for me complain. Check out my review of the CIT 2000 linksys wireless phone.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Hello?, Nov 13th, 2006 @ 9:35am

    Skype numbers

    Actually, not to point out the obvious, but simultaneous Skype users have increased from 3MM to 8MM (just checked this morning) over the past year. I like the Skype service regardless of eBay acquiring it or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    anon, Nov 13th, 2006 @ 10:01pm

    Re: Forced use of paypal

    Call it what it is, racketeering! eBay and the idiots that run it will use any and all excuses to make a buck.

    I am using Skype, and I like it, just wish they hadn't sold out to eBay. I give eBay about 6 more months to ruin them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    firemeg, Nov 14th, 2006 @ 11:09am

    what happens in 2007?

    Skype may be free right now, but remember, eBay's going to start charging for it in 2007. From what I've read about it, there doesn't yet seem to be a definitive rate. eBay is notorious for lying to the public about fee increases. It seems that Skypes (post eBay buyout) sucess has been less than steller and, for sure, less than eBay had anticipated and hoped for. My guess is that at this point eBay is counting on a few months of huge cash flow after they raise the fees (just like they count on it on eBay.com).

    Skype has been eerily absent from eBay speak for the past few months. It seems that a company as big as eBay can only focus on one thing at a time, whether that's auctions, express, skype or whatever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Ian Joiner, Mar 11th, 2007 @ 9:51pm

    Re: Forced use of paypal


    I see this discussion may be dated, but I'm annoyed as I'm still having exactly the problem you describe.

    It's like they are trying to refuse my business/my money. It's a strange "commercial" - or in their case anti-commercial attitude.

    I was seeking understanding but I guess some things are just plain opaque.!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    jake, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 9:48pm

    Re: People, comments, and commas.

    People. People who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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