Yahoo, which has already released a new version of its Communicator (Instant Messaging) product overseas, plans to launch a similar client next week, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans. The new release of the IM client has a brand new voice core, and it allows users to make phone calls to PSTN phones as well, in addition to PC-to-PC calls.
The pricing for the callout numbers is not certain as yet, though the current generation communicator allows unlimited incoming calls for $2.99 a month or $29.99 a year. The new offering, according to those in the know is likely to put Yahoo on an equal footing with Skype. Yahoo, clearly has designs on stealing market share from Skype.
As part of this new release, Yahoo is also going to incorporate banner ads in the Communicator client and will use some of the inventory to educate folks about how to use the built in phone/conference type features. The thinking within Yahoo is that by since they serve a more mainstream audience, a little handholding is not such a bad thing. Of course, the advertising revenues could help defray the “everyday low prices” on voice minutes.
While walking down the VoN showfloor, I discovered a wifi phone which will be sold by AT&T and has a link-up with Yahoo IM client. It looked pretty slick. Seems like Yahoo is getting serious about VoIP and Voice opportunities. It took them long enough, it seems.