Skype’s Tony Bates Says the Goal Is to Get Billions of Active Users

Skype President Tony Bates, the man behind Microsoft’s largest acquisition, outlined his ambitions for the Internet-calling service at D: All Things Digital.

“If we can get to billions, I’ll be happy with that, and we are on the path to do that,” he said in an onstage interview with Kara Swisher.

Bates announced that Skype is a quarter of the way there, with 250 million monthly connected users, up from 170 million when Microsoft’s $8.5 billion deal closed eight months ago.

To get the rest of the way, Bates said Skype is emphasizing two areas of growth: Mobile phones and the living room.

“I like to think of Skype as the virtual kitchen table,” Bates said. “Ultimately, videoconferencing isn’t defined by one device. We see the world having it where you want and when you want it. The living room is an important area.”

Bates freely talked about the integration of Skype on Windows 8, Microsoft’s touch-based operating system, and on Windows Phone. But when it came to the Xbox and using Kinect, Microsoft’s hands-free motion-controlled technology, he was a little vague.

“It’s one of the most amazing forms of input we’ve seen to date. It’s been associated with games, and my kids love it, but Kinect is not just for games. … I think voice is another input. For us, it would be adding a communication layer using Kinect as a gesture or input device.”

As for when we might see the integration of the two, Bates said to stay tuned.

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