After the longest, most widespread outage in Skype history, the VoIP company is offering credits to customers. The move comes amid a strong backlash from faithful customers.
Skype CEO Tony Bates produced a video and offered a detailed update on the so-called "supernode" issue. Bates said engineering crews had successfully stabilized Skype after building and deploying dedicated supernodes. That put most of Skype's users back online -- except for some of the ancillary services.
"Audio, video and IM are running normally. But a couple of our offerings, including offline IM and Group Video Calling, are not available yet, and we are working hard to restore them in due course," Bates said. "We now understand the cause of the problem and we believe it was not caused by a malicious attack. But we are still doing a full analysis and we will provide an in-depth postmortem."
Although Bates admitted that nothing can make up for the missed experiences, he said Skype will send its pay-as-you-go and prepay users a Skype credit voucher via e-mail. The voucher offers about 30 minutes of free calling to landlines anywhere in the world. Skype is also crediting active subscribers with a week's extra subscription service.
"It may take a few days, but once implemented, it will be applied from your next renewal date," Bates said. "Again, we sincerely apologize to all of you for this service outage and the inconvenience it has caused. We know how important it is for Skype to be available so you can connect to your friends, family and colleagues."
The root of the problem seems to be the failure of supernodes -- millions of individual connections between computers and phones to keep things up and running -- due to a software issue. Skype explained that it isn't a network like a conventional phone or IM network. Instead, it relies on those supernodes. Under normal circumstances, Skype explained, there are a large number of supernodes available. Skype was working all week to develop mega-supernodes.
"It's tough," said Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg. "Skype has gone from an enthusiast-nice-to-have service to mission critical for many people. Skype did the right thing by at least offering to compensate people for the inconvenience. Little things like that go a long way toward generating goodwill, particularly when there is so much competition emerging in this space."
Indeed, the outage was inconvenient -- and costly -- for many businesses. More companies are relying on Skype-like services. In fact, the VoIP and SIP turnkey-services market earned revenues of $717.3 million in 2009 and is estimated to reach $3.9 billion in 2016, according to Frost & Sullivan's research.