Pew: Internet Telephony Gaining Foothold In The U.S.

by Gaurav Kheterpal on June 2, 2011

Google does it. Facebook does it. And Skype does it better than anybody else. Welcome to the modern age of Internet Telephony.

Last month, Microsoft made the biggest deal in its history with the acquisition of Skype for $8.5 billion. Several experts were quick to point out that Microsoft overpaid for the deal merely to keep Google at bay.

According to Pew Internet, nearly one quarter of American adult Internet users have placed phone calls online. Internet calling is increasingly being integrated into apps and the user base of popular services such as Skype and Vonage is rising steadily. So, perhaps Microsoft didn’t overpay for Skype after all?

While it’s tough to answer that question, there’s no doubt that Internet Telephony is here to stay and we’ve merely touched the tip of the iceberg till now.

The report from Pew Internet reveals nearly 19 percent of all American adults, have made calls online using Skype, Vonage or some other VOIP service. Nearly 5 percent of Web users are making calls online on any given day. In 2007, Pew found that only 8 percent of Internet users had made phone calls via the Internet and that around 2 percent made them on any given day. Pew says the latest stats indicate a significant increase in VOIP use from surveys the research organization conducted in the past. It attributes Skype as one of the greatest advocates of Internet Telephony, both in the consumer and business segments.

Last year, Skype reported sales of $860 million. The service has over 600 million registered accounts, but only 160 million of these are active. Skype claims it was used for over 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010. There are several theories which suggest Microsoft may eventually integrate Skype technology into its Windows Phone platform, which doesn’t have an integrated VoIP option.

The Pew report suggests Internet calling is more popular in urban and suburban areas as compared to their rural counterparts. Internet calling is gaining popularity primarily due to the following three reasons – “free or cheaper than other types of phone calling; it is enabled on many handheld devices like smartphones and tablet computers; more and more meetings and classroom activities exploit online phone connections along with video capabilities; and more families and friends are building online calls into their communications streams.”

The Pew report included results from 846 users from a national survey on landline and cell phone use that targeted 2,277 adults in the U.S. between April 26 and May 22.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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