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Summary:

At first blush, the big Skype announcement that it will be allow free calls to everyone in US and Canada is having a desired effect: one of glee and joy. Someone did come-up with a nifty stunt to bring the focus back on Skype. Regardless, while […]

At first blush, the big Skype announcement that it will be allow free calls to everyone in US and Canada is having a desired effect: one of glee and joy.

Someone did come-up with a nifty stunt to bring the focus back on Skype. Regardless, while it is certainly joyous event for some, it is prudent to point out that the deal is only valid up until end of 2006. Now this is a deal that is not available to Skype users outside of the US, where a large percentage of them reside.

Why this schism? Because in Canada and US, the termination costs are so low, that Skype, which continues to suck money like a certain SF slugger sucks at-bats, the overall costs of a marketing stunt like this aren’t high.

There is the unsaid reality of Skype in the US: it doesn’t nearly have the penetration, usage, or mind share as it has in Europe and Asia. The ultra-low cost calling plans on Mobile phones, and more recently on the landlines make it even less attractive. By offering free calling, they are desperately trying to get something going on this side of the pond.

Some folks think that this is a net negative for AOL’s AIMphone service. I don’t necessarily agree. I think AIMphone is basically giving away a free phone to exisiting AIM users – a much easier task than getting people to sign-up, and download a new software client, as Skype is trying to do.

Any way, if you want to marry you low cost phone plans from your Bell operating company, the better option is TelEvolution’s PhoneGnome, a small gizmo that meshes your VoIP, SIP, Skype and your regular phone line, always picking the lowest cost (or free) option to route the calls. Their new product, GnomeLink allows PhoneGnome users to call Skype users from their PhoneGnome-enabled home phone, and to answer Skype calls on their PhoneGnome-enabled home phone.

Nevertheless, the SkypeOut, AIMphone and GnomeLink announcements are only part of an ongoing trend – vanishing voice revenues.

PS: I wasn’t pressured into saying something about this deal by Valleywag. No seriously – I have been out of pocket at Mesh conference. And seriously, I don’t have a clue how Skype will make money off this … or!

  1. I think this temp free SkypeOut skype hype is a marketing ploy to pump up its user base in N. America to a level comparable to the one it enjoys in Europe & Asia.

    Once it gets to that level, it will definitely make money as users would get hooked to Skype by the time this deal ends.

    Regards,
    Nag @
    Startups.in

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  2. while outgoing calls are free, inboard calls still require a subscription.

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  3. that’s inbound calls

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  4. It could easily backfire on them though… nothing pisses people off like having to pay for something once they’ve gotten used to getting it for free. Come next January they could see a user rebellion if they try to re-institute the old skype-out rates.

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  5. I am not not exactly sure if it is free or not. Perhaps it is user error, but I downloaded the most recent rev of their software and followed all the instructions. They read as such:

    “Calling any phone within the US and Canada is free until the end of the year. To make a call to a landline or cell phone, click on the “Dial” tab, insert the country code 1 in front of the number and press the green call button.”

    That green call button is not active.

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  6. I used it and I was able to place calls for free to numbers with in the USA.

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  7. Consider it marketing dollars. Vonage throw 150 dollars after each client in order to get them in their database – this is a lot cheaper. Now, Skype will get them in their database, but will they make any return on this marketing stunt? One thing they do get for sure is lots of publicity and branding, which is where 98% of the company value is right now – not in profits.

    It will be exciting to follow!

    Simvox

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  8. This news is false. I tried and I couldn’t make a free call. I checked skype’s forum and many people have complained that it doesn’t work. Someone at Skype is probably going to lose their job for this.

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  9. Doesn’t work for me either. What a dud.

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  10. Clearly Skype is good at giving away things that cost money. Maybe it’s time to dump their bias to make you download the client and make it web based. Probably an offer that would attract more new users than this freebee that will simply be copied by others.

    btw..i’dlove to see them get cherry picked on non RBOC terminations here as those cost are closer to $.05 per minute. Time to call Kansas Dorthy!

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