Last week’s Skype blackout and the impact it had on millions brought home the fact that the little P2P voice service has become an important member of modern communications. Two new, discrete bits of news add further weight to that theory.
Earlier today, IBM (IBM) said it was going to buy WebDialogs, which makes a suite of products that enable desktop sharing, conferencing and collaboration software known as Unyte, for an undisclosed amount of money. Unyte rides on Skype, and has been a stand-out amongst Skype Extras.
IBM plans to embed the application (and its functionality) into IBM’s Lotus Notes and Sametime products. Skype, despite lingering doubts about its reliability and security, has become part of the enterprise infrastructure. IBM plans to use Unyte to expand its Web conferencing offerings to small- and medium-sized businesses, and to smaller work groups within larger companies.
Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Microsoft (MSFT) are targeting some of the same customers, but IBM is being prescient in latching onto the Skype bandwagon — the small- and medium-sized businesses represent the biggest opportunity for Web-based collaboration and conferencing.
Increasingly, the work force is getting distributed (a trend we track on Web Worker Daily), and there has been need for tools and other technologies to keep the remote teams working.
Skype and other tools for low-cost desktop conferencing are gaining in popularity. “Desktop video conferencing is the small business video system of choice,” said Peter Brockmann, president of Brockmann & Company, a consulting firm.
This is also an opportunity for hardware vendors that design devices which enhance this experience. PChome Online, a Taiwan-based Internet portal and online shopping company, has recognized such an opportunity and has decided to spin out its IPEVO business unit. IPEVO makes Skype-focused hardware and sells it to small businesses and consumers.