After attracting millions of users and billions in valuation, Skype is still seeking to answer the always-there question about whether Skype is a growth business. Thursday the eBay subsidiary unveiled yet another plan to try to tap into Skype users’ wallets, an all-you-can-eat SkypeOut service called Skype Pro which (like their Skype Unlimited plans for Canada and the U.S.) removes the per-minute charges for each call to the PSTN and replaces it with a small connection fee and a subscription cost.
Whether it’s a good deal for users is hard to tell at this point, especially since it’s only available initially in Europe. Clearly, more successful subscription models give Skype things it never had — contracts with users, and steady predictable revenue. Plus more cash up front, instead of waiting for people to call out to the PSTN to get paid.
Why is that important to Skype, more important than say figuring out how to be really disruptive again and move Skype to cell phones? Om noted a long time ago that there are still payouts tied to revenue figures. With Niklas Zennstrom back in charge, it’s not hard to figure out the motivation to get into serious competition with telcos the world over. Just add some cash to the bottom line, quickly! For customers, the question is — do you want eBay to be your phone company?