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Summary:

Skype, a division of eBay, is likely to announce tomorrow that the beta version of its Skype for SIP offering will interoperate with Cisco Systems’ Unified Communications 500 system. This follows closely on the heels of similar arrangements struck by Skype with Shoretel and SIPfoundry’s sipXecs […]

skype_logoSkype, a division of eBay, is likely to announce tomorrow that the beta version of its Skype for SIP offering will interoperate with Cisco Systems’ Unified Communications 500 system. This follows closely on the heels of similar arrangements struck by Skype with Shoretel and SIPfoundry’s sipXecs platform. In addition, the company is said to be working with Avaya, a major enterprise telephony equipment provider. These are a few of the many moves being made by Skype to expand its business to the corporate market.

Skype for SIP was announced in March 2009; it was criticized by competitors and others for being mostly vaporware and a generally ill-conceived product. Skype, of course, feels otherwise. “There are a lot of companies that are looking for paid and supported versions of Skype,” said CEO Josh Silverman in a conversation last week. “People are using it for in-enterprise video calling.” The company is working on developing an enterprise version and an enterprise license, Silverman explained.

“We are pretty big on video calling,” Silverman told me. The company is putting a lot of resources into building a better video conferencing experience, he said, because he believes that person-to-person video calling is going to be as big as video. That absolutely makes sense because today the definition of communication is constantly changing. In the past, the world was all about voice, then instant messages and now video calling. People are sending messages and status updates via Twitter and Facebook. The communications are now multimodal.

While he wouldn’t get into product specifics, Silverman dropped enough hints about Skype’s enterprise future. “We are working to develop an enterprise software product that is built around productivity vs. simply cost savings,” he said. That’s a very telling statement: At present, Skype’s only utility is that it’s a cheap calling service that can leverage about 480 million subscribers and its ability to buy long distance minutes on the cheap.

One of the reasons Skype is popular with corporate users is because it’s fairly easy to use; making face-to-face video calls for free via Skype is simple. The GigaOM Network uses Skype to conduct most of its business with members of our team who are in remote locations.

Related: Last week, I had a lengthy conversation with CEO Josh Silverman about his plans for Skype in the coming years. In the first part of the conversation, Josh discussed his lobbying efforts to get Skype working over 3G networks.

  1. Video conferencing and chat have been around forever and are very disliked.

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  2. I agree with you JD some people feel that way, however it’s growing more and more popular. I love skype but it has it’s limits considering its voip which is sometimes poor quality and only skype to skype is free. For everything else I have to use my conference calling service which is also free and not mention reliable!

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  3. [...] How Skype Plans to Dominate Business Telephony [...]

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  4. On 1-1 video: let’s face it – the learned behavior of some amount of anonymity (visual in this case) in one-on-one tele-communications is difficult to break through. I think the barriers to adoption will be lessened by allowing users to use some form of avatars instead. but preferably in a form that maintains the outlines of the users’ visual and body language while masking true fidelity.

    that (in)famous a-ha video of the eighties where band members were depicted as charcoal sketches in a comic strip comes to mind.

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  5. Good to see Skype plugging into enterprise voice solutions. I have been using Skype for almost two years for my voice/video conferences and found it to improve my productivity. I would love to see easy access to LDAP, Cal & Outlook. Skype may win as ease of “Click and call” IMO would drive adoption. It would be much better option than pick up the phone, punch in #s and dial. Laptop is my desk-phone now and will be there as long as use laptop.

    It would be interesting to see what business model would emerge as Skype interoperates with different enterprise systems.

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  6. Om,

    Is Skype still part of eBay? (it is mentioned in the first line of your blog post)

    -Ankur

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  7. The open source communications platform sipXecs already has their Skype for SIP connection template built and tested.

    Now if Skype would just get with the program and turn on SIP for the masses we’ll be good to go. When is that going to happen?

    -Mike

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  8. [...] focused right now.  The enterprise and more functionality over the wireless network.Clipped from gigaom.comHow Skype Plans to Dominate Business TelephonySkype, a division of eBay is likely to announce [...]

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  9. [...] GigaOm last night already predicted an announcement was forthcoming, but now it’s official: Skype has announced that the beta version of Skype for SIP has been certified as interoperable with the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series for Small Business. [...]

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