Skype on Monday announced a beta that will allow it to connect to corporate telephone networks across the globe.
Technically, Skype's beta is dubbed Skype For SIP for Business users (statement, Skype blog, Techmeme). SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol, which is a standard for voice over Internet protocol used it corporate networks. Simply put, Skype will now connect to corporate phone systems so you can Skype fixed line phones and mobiles from a traditional PBX system---your standard phone set-up.
For now, Skype's pricing once the beta runs its course is to be determined. In the meantime, standard rates---a little more than 2 cents for most global calls---apply. However, it's likely that the margins might be a little better than its current a few pennies here and there to call a land line setup. If not, Skype may at least get more volume if it's an official member of the corporate network club. Skype already works with corporate hardware and integrates with Outlook and Salesforce.com, but its latest move solidifies its corporate standing and at least allows for better enterprise support.
Skype's customer base is mostly consumer, but it has been reaching out to be more business friendly. Call quality and security have been ongoing concerns, but it's not like Skype has been locked out of the business market---Skype calls for business happen all the time on the sly.
Here's what this latest move means to Skype:
- Skype can go from being an ancillary product that enterprises support quietly to one integrated into phone systems;
- Click to call will be more of a reality for businesses as Skype 405 million users connect to corporate systems;
- Skype will get incremental revenue because businesses will throw business at it to save on global calling.
For the enterprise, Skype for SIP means businesses can manage Skype calls, use their existing equipment and software to route calls and buy online numbers.
And the key point:
During the beta period all calls will be charged at standard Skype rates. Further pricing details will be announced when the product is fully launched later this year.
That pricing, which is likely to be tweaked for corporations, is likely to translate into more revenue for Skype and its parent eBay, which may be looking to unload it. Perhaps eBay can use Skype to drum up more corporate business.