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Skype has tapped Unified Communications (UC) provider ShoreTel Inc. as the first partner for its enterprise-focused Skype-for-SIP offering. The companies announced a deal today to allow ShoreTel’s 11,000 customers to register for the beta version of Skype for SIP, a PBX-centric product targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses.
Skype for SIP, which was unveiled earlier this year, is a simplified version of Skype Asterisk that allows businesses and employees to receive inbound calls through SIP-enabled UC systems from its 400 million-plus users. ShoreTel customers can also use the product to direct outbound calls from devices on ShoreTel’s UC system to landlines and mobile phones at Skype rates. Both SIP products are an effort to build on Skype’s presence in the enterprise, where the company’s success has so far been limited.
“Our research shows that 35 percent (of users) are using Skype for business today, and when we looked at how we could improve that, we saw two main business tracks,” Chris Moore, senior product manager for Skype for Business, told me. “One was Unified Communication, and the second was this huge demand for connectivity. You have some existing infrastructure, and businesses want to be connected to Skype for low-cost international calling.”
Skype had hoped to boost revenues in advance of eBay’s sell-off of the business. While critics have described Skype for SIP as “barren of everything that makes Skype meaningful and invaluable in the workplace,” there’s no doubt that there’s substantial opportunity when it comes to delivering more affordable telecom services to small- to medium-sized businesses — especially in a sluggish economy.