Sat, Jun 02, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Under Microsoft, Skype boss aims for 1 billion users

AFP, RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CALIFORNIA

Microsoft’s Skype Internet telephone service is looking to quadruple its number of users and reach 1 billion, division president Tony Bates said on Thursday.

Bates, who heads the unit that was acquired by Microsoft last year, but operates autonomously, said growth would come from mobile users and partnerships like the one Skype has with Facebook.

Bates told the All Things Digital conference in California that he hoped to “accelerate” progress toward his business goal of expanding Skype.

“If we can get to 1 billion [users], I’d be very happy,” he said.

He cited Facebook as a key to growth for Skype, which now has 250 million users.

“They are the partner of choice,” he said, offering the possibility “for us to become the de facto standard for voice and video communication.”

The Skype feature on Facebook allows for multiperson conversations and a camera icon that can be clicked on for instant one-on-one video calls with friends.

Bates said that because of explosive growth in the use of smartphones, “the top priority is definitely mobile,” including competing platforms from firms such as Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.

Skype is moving to expand its presence on various mobile platforms, with apps that allow smartphone users more calling options by using the Internet, he said.

“The dream for Skype is to be on every major platform that has momentum,” he said. “Today in terms of downloads it’s the iPhone, but Android has the fastest growing momentum.”

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