Microsoft's Skype is making some serious headway into the international phone traffic scene. New data (PDF) from telecom market research firm TeleGeography shows that Skype broke records in 2012 by hosting the same amount of calls as one third of the world's phone traffic.
International phone traffic typically grows slowly, for example in 2012 it increased by 5 percent to 490 billion minutes. However, voice and messaging call apps are growing at a breakneck pace. Skype voice and video traffic grew 44 percent to 167 billion minutes in 2012. This increase is more than twice that of all international carriers combined.
"The pressure on carriers will continue to mount in the coming years," TeleGeography analyst Stephan Beckert said in a statement. "While Skype is the best-known voice application, it's far from the only challenger to the PSTN. Google (Talk and Voice), WeChat (Weixin), Viber, Nimbuzz, Line, and KakaoTalk have also become popular. And, perhaps most ominously for telcos, Facebook recently added a free voice calling feature to its Messenger application."
The Skype team rolled out two new updates for Windows and Mac yesterday, both labeled as version 6.2. The updates include "eGifting," or the ability to send Skype credits to friends, which the recipients can use anytime.