When last we last we checked in on Skype's struggles to keep its VoIP service up and running, the company had assured the public via its Twitter account, "Skype now returning to normal."
That was about 4 p.m. Eastern yesterday and it has proven to be an optimistic assessment, unless they meant by "returning" that sooner or later things are bound to get better. Because this morning there are still plenty of Skype customers who are unhappy and not shy about letting the world know. (Latest Skype statements and CEO video below)
While there were reports the service was down in California, users abroad seem to be bearing the brunt of the problems, according to the latest chatter on Twitter. (Reader says Washington, Wisconsin and Texas, too.)
From Brisbane, Australia: "Not impressed with the amount of @skype downtime today. Have a banking issue noticed this morning & STILL have not been able to make a call."
In Malaysia: "Missing Skype. It's such a big part of my day...now only realize."
And in Milan, Italy: "Skype down down down.. I don't care that much anymore... there are so many alternative options."
That last one isn't the kind of impression a company wants to leave, especially while it maneuvers toward an IPO.
Although Skype yesterday afternoon offered an explanation for its troubles that centered around "supernodes," that hasn't stopped speculation that the service may have been victimized by a distributed denial of service attack by Wikileaks sympathizers motivated by Skype's corporate relationship to PayPal via eBay. Seems unlikely.
The latest official word from Skype came about 4 hours ago as I type and reads: "Thanks for your continued patience while we get everyone back online - sorry especially to those of you who are still waiting."
It's fair to say that patience is wearing thin.
(Update, 7:15 a.m.: Skype just issued a new statement that says about 70% of users are still unable to connect:
Millions of you are already reporting that you can now sign in to Skype normally, and we estimate that there are already almost 5 million people online. As a guide, this is around 30% of what we'd expect at this time of day - and that number is increasing all the time. Unfortunately, it's not possible for us to predict on an individual level when you'll be able to sign in again, and we thank you for your patience in the meantime.
It's worth noting that our enterprise product, Skype Connect, is working normally, though Skype Manager and our other web-based functions will continue to stay offline for a little longer. Additionally, features like group video calling will take longer to return to normal.
We're sincerely sorry for this disruption - like you, all of us at Skype rely on Skype every day. We understand just how important Skype is to your friendships, family, and work, and so are particularly aware of the impact of rare problems like this. We're working hard to restore full functionality to the Skype software, and hope to have more information to share soon. You can also follow @skype on Twitter for further updates.
They gave it their best shot but spinning this one is difficult; it's a disaster for Skype.)
(Update 2: Over at Slashdot: "The LA Times reports that millions of Skype phone users worldwide couldn't make calls or were dropped in mid-conversation, because of a network connection failure that began about 9 a.m. Wednesday PST. 'For a communications system this large to go down, it's almost unheard of,' says Charles S. Golvin, a Forrester Research analyst. 'Usually when phone lines are disrupted, the blackout is confined to a specific geographical area. This is worldwide.' In theory, Skype, which is based on peer-to-peer networking technology shouldn't see an outage but that is not really the case - the company has a massive infrastructure that it uses for purposes such as authentication and linking to the traditional phone networks. 'The outage comes at a time when Skype is starting to ask larger corporations for their business,' writes Om Malik. 'If I am a big business, I would be extremely cautious about adopting Skype for business, especially in the light of this current outage.'")
(Update 3: From a recent San Jose Mercury News interview with new Skype CEO Tony Bates: "I was brought in to take Skype to the next level," said Bates, who joined the company in October after serving as a senior vice president at Cisco Systems. "I was surprised at how much opportunity we have." ... Not what he had mind.)
(Update 4, 10:20 a.m.: Latest from Skype: "We've seen evidence of a significant increase in the number of people online in the last hour - estimated at over 10M." ... Hope they're right this time.)
(Update 5, 11:45: Talk about your comedy of errors, here's Skype's latest tweet: "Sorry - the last tweet was posted in error. We're 100% focused on getting Skype back in action. Stay tuned for more information." ... It's not clear whether the erroneous tweet was the one boasting of progress or another that has been deleted. It's like watching a train wreck.)
(Update 6, 1:20 p.m.: Skype CEO Bates says they're now seeing about 80% of normal user volume. His statement from a blog post follows; the video below shows his demeanor and offers a bit more detail:
"It's taken some time to do, but we're making steady progress. To put things in perspective, there are now around 16.5 million people online on Skype around the world. This is about 80% of what we'd normally expect to see at this time of day.
"We've stabilised Skype's core functionality - IM, audio and video - but it will take longer for us to restore offline IM and group video calling. It's been a tough 24 hours for many of you - and I'd like to thank you for your patience as we bring Skype back to normal.
"I realise that it's difficult to compensate you for not being able to talk to or see your friends, family or colleagues, but we're planning to offer Skype Credit vouchers to all of our loyal paying customers to thank you for your continued support.")
(Update 7, 7:15 p.m.: Skype now says its service is "stabilized.")
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