Some of the calls you make to landlines via Skype will soon be free. That's because after testing its click-to-call ads on the Web for several months, Skype today announced it is rolling out the new business-funded product in a partnership with European Directories.
"Partnering with European Directories is a key part of bringing our new business funded click-to-call product to market and providing advertisers with solutions that can help them connect with customers in new and innovative ways," said Don Albert, GM and VP of Americas and Advertising for Skype. "When a call is free and only one click away, we believe it can have a positive impact for a business because there are fewer barriers to start a call. That can result in more qualified leads, more engagement, and possibly a higher rate of conversion for a business."
Calls that are funded by a business will be highlighted with a blue "Free Call" button that appears anywhere online where a phone number is displayed, Skype explained. This includes search engines, internet yellow pages, and local search sites.
A couple of weeks after eBay agreed to sell 65% of Skype to a group of investors, the founders of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, contrived to gatecrash eBay’s party. Joltid, a company in which the two Skype founders are stakeholders, filed a copyright lawsuit on Wednesday against Skype. Skype's founders retained control over the peer-to-peer technology at the VoIP client’s core even after selling Skype to eBay for $2.6 billion. They had agreed to license the source code to eBay.
Joltid has accused eBay of unlawfully modifying and sharing the source code. An adverse decision could even force eBay to shut down Skype until it can come up with an alternative version. The San Jose-based internet company has said that it is making arrangements to face any such eventuality. However, the presence of a contingency plan should not be construed as a lack of confidence on its part. “We remain on track to close the transaction in the fourth quarter of 2009,” an eBay spokesperson said.
According to the New York Times, Ebay today is expected to announce a deal to sell off Skype to a group of private investors, which are likely to include Andreessen Horowitz, a new venture capital firm spearheaded by Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen. At least two other investors are said to be part of the group.
If it happens, the sale will mark the end of a rather uneventful four-year run since Ebay acquired Skype in 2005. All told, Ebay has forked over more than $3.1 billion on the venture, much higher than what many consider the VoIP service is worth.
An interesting side-story to the potential deal is whether or not Skype's founders -- Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Fiis -- are involved. The two developers had approached private equity firms earlier this year and hoped to make a bid for their old company, but Ebay wanted more than what was being offered. No price has been disclosed on the potential deal now being reported, although Skype has said it wants in the neighborhood of $2 billion.
VoIP service Skype said it recently reached the 15 million concurrent user mark, claiming 405 million Skype users in all. But what's even more impressive is how quickly the service is growing. Skype estimates it adds 380,000 new users each day. To put that number into perspective, Ross Storey, Managing Editor at Fairfax Business Media, points out that over a 12 day period, the number of users Skype adds is equivalent to the population of Singapore.
Skype announced the figures in Signapore during the launch of the new Skype 4.0 software, which the company calls "the most exciting and fundamental change to Skype's software in the company's history." Even more exciting for the company is recording the eighth consecutive quarter of profit, in which Skype earned $45 million in Q4 2008. This is thanks in large part to a third of its registered subscribers using the service for business purposes.
"In this type of environment people are looking for cost savings wherever they can find them, they are looking to 'recession-proof' their businesses," said Dan Neary, Skype's new VP and GM. "hey don't want to fly from A to B, they want to do video-conferencing. More and more, this offering is becoming applicable for people in business."
Last month, a rumor surfaced suggested Ebay was shopping around its Skype service, showing particular interest in selling to Google. If Skype keeps up these kinds of numbers, it's hard to imagine Google, or anyone else, not being interested.
Forget about Meebo or any other instant messaging aggregator service you might be using, because none of them (that we know of) has as many tricks up their sleeves as IMO.IM.
Currently in alpha form, IMO.IM boasts support for all the major IM protocols -- MSN, AIM / ICQ, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk -- and will also work with MySpace. But perhaps the most noteworthy addition lies in IMO.IM's support for Skype, the oft overlooked client in just about every IM aggregator in existence.
In addition to text, IMO.IM also supports voice and video, which looks to be the tip of the iceberg according to the program's blog page. A sampling of planned projects include text to speech and vice versa in all languages, face and object recognition, 3D avatars, chat rooms, shared whiteboards, and a plethora of other services.
Curious? Give IMO.IM a whirl here and tell us what you think.
VoIP service Skype, which was acquired by Ebay in 2005 for $2.5 billion, might again change hands if the latest rumor comes to fruition. According to reports, Ebay would like nothing more than to offload the VoIP service to Google. But is Google interested?
According to Eric Zeman at InformationWeek, the search company should be. Despite the tough economic times, which is especially taking its toll on the tech industry, Skype saw its fourth quarter revenues spike by 26 percent over the previous quarter. And while Google has been shutting down some of its services, Zeman contends that Skype would make a natural fit alongside services like Blogger, YouTube, Picasa, Gmail, and more. It's also interesting to note that a Skype thin client (in beta) exists for Google's Android platform, and a Skype acquisition could lead to native support.
Hit the jump and tell us whether or not you think this would be a good move for Google.
TOM-Skype, the Chinese chapter of Skype, has been caught filtering and archiving text messages. The Chinese VoIP service provider has eight dedicated servers for storing messages that contain certain politically contentious keywords, according to a report published by The Information War Monitor, a Canadian organization that monitors internet censorship.
Tom-Skype, a joint venture between eBay and China’s TOM Online, also stores the usernames of all those people that exchange messages containing such sensitive keywords. Also, the service provider actively censors any politically sensitive keywords - some as harmless as “milk powder” - in messages. TOM-Skype doesn’t restrict itself to Chinese users but freely records messages and usernames of other Skype users from across the world as well (only those users that exchange "obnoxious" messages with Chinese users). To top it all, all the private data is available publicly as it is hosted on unencrypted web servers.
With 309 million registered users and $126 million in first quarter earnings, it'd be easy to see why some might want to leave well enough alone, but don't expect Skype to remain stagnant. Despite the strong numbers, Ebay investors are into Skype for $2.6 billion, an amount most have since admitted was too much for the five year old company. In a bid for renewed faith for the pricey acquisition, Skype 4.0 will bring some major changes to the table, and you can test drive a beta version right now. Click through to see what to expect from the redesign.
Gather round for a quick lesson in full pranking glory--perfect for use against co-workers, friends, enemies, and everyone else short of Homeland Security. Click the link for a full how-to for this gag!