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The ink on the $4.1 billion eBay-Skype deal is almost dry and already competitors are lining up to rain on Skype’s parade. If the regulatory/incumbent problems were not enough, here comes news that Yahoo will soon upgrade its Messenger’s dialout/dial in features to compete with SkypeIn/SkypeOut.
Essentially what this means is that Yahoo users could use their IM client to dial-in/out to old fashioned phone networks or cellular networks, along with new SIP-based VoIP services. (By the way, Yahoo’s hasn’t announced this service officially, and a few news publications jumped the gun!) Yahoo is not “launching a brand new VoIP service, instead it is offering an upgrade to what was available and will aggressive market the service. PC Magazine has some pricing information.
Users can receive unlimited domestic calls for $2.99 a month or $29.90 a year, and they can purchase prepaid voice credit in $10 and $25 increments.
Yahoo is also planning to give away avatars and ringtones, which apparently were a big push for Skype in terms of monetizing its audience. Yahoo believes that it has a better profile of users – in US and Western Europe to monetize its efforts, in comparison to Skype, which is pretty strong in Asia and Eastern Europe. This doesn’t necessarily mean a slam dunk for Yahoo either.
There is word that Microsoft has started to integrate its Microsoft Live with MCI network, and AOL is already offering some of the same features. Skype’s partnerships with hardware makers, while increasing the risk of drawing the ire of incumbents, take away the need for a computer. Yahoo, however could leverage its IM position to become a default “presence manager” but that’s sometime in the future.
I am told it is a remarkable improvement over the previous version. While, the older Yahoo Messenger had dial-out/dial-in features through an arrangement with Net2Phone, the new messenger will be exclusively using the DialPad back-end to route calls to Yahoo partners such as SBC, Verizon and BellSouth. (That should keep them happy!) The prices of calls within US are almost half that of Skype, something to ponder about!
(I hope to catch up with Skype North America big cheese Henry Gomez, and get a first hand low down on how he is going to fight of the new competitors.)