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Skype Grows and Aims for the Enterprise

Carl Weinschenk

Skype, the highest-profile pureplay VoIP provider, is having a surprisingly good time. While announcing the availability of Skype 4.0, the company said it now has e 405 million users. The Industry Standard reports that it is adding a hefty 380,000 users per day. Recently, the company hit a milestone: at one point in time, which was not identified, 15 million people used the service simultaneously. Perhaps most intriguingly, almost one-third of users are Skyping for business purposes.

 

Very late last year, I wrote a story-it wasn't posted until Jan. 2-on the prospects for mobile VoIP for business users. Skype for business director Ian Robin told me that one-third of the then 370 million registered Skype users were folks doing business. One-third of these-one-ninth of the 370 million, or a bit more than 40 million people-were mobile business users. Robin clearly said that Skype had high hopes for the enterprise, and was working with one IP PBX vendor, Asterisk. More initiatives aimed at driving Skype deeper into the enterprise were to be expected, Robin told me.

 

That's Skype's version. Not surprisingly, not everyone is thrilled with the Skype move into the enterprise. NTA Monitor, an organization based in the UK, sees danger:

 

"The significant increase in the use of VoIP, particularly for organisations and businesses with regional or international networks, reflects the undoubted business benefits it brings. However, companies that succumb to the temptation for the seemingly 'quick-fix', lower set-up costs and reduced international phone bills of consumer solutions such as Skype, may achieve short-term gain but undoubtedly long-term pain"


NTA says that the security of consumer services-Skype and others -- is questionable in a number of dimensions. NTA Monitor technical director Roy Hills says Skype can't be integrated into a corporate infrastructure-something with which Robin would no doubt disagree-and therefore leads to costly platform changeouts later.

 


According to this NewsFactor piece, Skype 4.0 is said by the company to be the most important update it has ever released. The writer begins by describing cosmetic changes that will only be of importance to people who are staunch Skype advocates. He then gets into the more significant changes, which involve the platform's video capabilities. The video is terrific, the writer says, and uses so little bandwidth that the good quality carries to a higher number of broadband connections. The audio quality always has been terrific, he says. The drawback is that the video is only available in a caller-to-caller format. Other services -- such as Oovoo, SightSpeed and Apple's iChat -- support participants in multiple locations.

 

One of the strangest deals of the past few years-and there are plenty to go choose from-was eBay's purchase of Skype for $2.6 billion in 2005. Ever since, there have been periodic rumblings that eBay is looking to offload the company. eWEEK presents possible suitors, as suggested by analysts. The writer discounts one often-mentioned name, Google, because Google Talk seems set to make an acquisition unnecessary. Microsoft is mentioned by another analyst, and the writer thinks that that makes more sense. A third potential landing buyer is Yahoo.


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