Monday, June 06, 2005

All things to all people

Andy highlights two interesting takes, and adds his own special sauce on what seems to be a looming identity crisis at Skype. All this echoes some of my own previous posts on regulatory creep at Skype, and the messages coming out are decidedly mixed. For example, while Niklas is quoted as saying that Skype is redefining itself as "a peer-to-peer word-sharing software client," the company is reported in today's Nikkei (Japanese only for the moment, and there is no announcement on the Skype site at this point) to be tying up with Fusion Communications (a unit of giant power company TEPCO) to attack the corporate market with a flat rate national calling offer this autumn. Though the article is somewhat vague, it appears to me that they will be basically offering a targeted domestic version of SkypeOut to corporates, promising Y11 per three minute increment for calls to national numbers. It's a clever attack in a market where pricing still has a long way to fall, but it is clearly a telephony service, and will be sold as such, not as "word sharing."

UPDATE: PCWeb in Japan has a different angle, revealing that the service will involve assigning 050 numbers (the range assigned to IP numbers in Japan) to Skype-enabled PCs (i.e., it's SkypeIn), and also that Fusion's IP Phone service (which is SIP) and Skype will interconnect via gateways "developed by both companies" (according to direct translation). An interesting schematic is shown here. Meanwhile, somewhere in Redmond...

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