According to a report in today's Wall Street Journal, and excerpted in this Reuters story that's been posted to ZDNet, Internet auction site eBay is in talks to buy Skype.
The talks are said to be at a sensitive stage, and could fall apart.
My first reaction was, OK, here would be a way for buyers and sellers on eBay to talk to each other, or even just to Instant Message. That actually would make a lot of sense.
According to Reuters, a source familiar with the situation told the Journal that eBay was keen on adding services that make it easier to buy and sell goods online, as it did when it acquired the electronic-payment processing service PayPal in 2002.
But that's not all.
Reuters also cited the Journal's report that another reason for eBay's interest is that it would like to enter new businesses that could open up ways for the company to generate revenue, such as pay-per-call Internet telephony.
If eBay keeps pursuing this, they are smart. I draw from the feedback of a close relative, who is an eBay Power Seller. She started her own business on eBay, but over the years, has transitioned it into her own site. She now views her eBay experiences as kind of e-commerce training wheels - a stage in her business that she has long transcended. While grateful for what she learned on eBay, she'd rather not pay the commission that comes with eBay sales.
I have to think that there are tens of thousands of people like her. It would make sense for eBay to come up with strategies for additional revenue. Skype could well be it.