Skype sets eyes on enterprise customers

Ebay's US$2.6b VOIP service provider targets enterprise users

After winning over millions of consumers to its largely free Internet telephone services, Skype is preparing to go after businesses eager to reduce their telecommunication costs.

Skype, a provider of VOIP (voice of Internet Protocol) services acquired by Ebay for US$2.6 billion last year, is developing a range of offerings targeted at the enterprise market, said Skype Senior Director Jonathan Christensen, at the Von conference in Berlin on Monday.

"We're currently working on a call-center service," Christensen said. "And there are more enterprise services on the way. So stay tuned."

Security is a huge concern of all businesses, Christensen acknowledged. "Companies have told us that we don't share enough information with their IT managers," he said. "Information sharing is definitely an issue. We're going to be putting together more white papers and other information to improve this."

Interoperability with public service telephone networks remains difficult and, depending on the network, can degrade call quality, according to Christensen. This is also an issue Skype will need to address to attract corporate users.

Asked if Skype, with annual sales of around US$200 million, could ever justify its acquisition price, Christensen said the company will be rolling out many new products over its platform aimed at creating new revenue streams.

But revenue was not the main reason for purchasing Skype, according to Christensen. It was a one-time opportunity.

"On the Internet, there are some successful businesses that are only created once, like Flickr, YouTube and Skype," Christensen said. "For every YouTube, you'll find hundreds of other sites offering nearly the same service. It's what we call major network effect; once it happens, it happens."

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