Australian Skype users can now have their own SkypeIn phone numbers.
SkypeIn gives Skype users their own personal phone number which allows them to receive inbound calls from ordinary phones. Australia is the 14th country in the world to receive SkypeIn, and is already available in the US, the UK, Brazil, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.
Skype, one of the world's most popular VoIP applications, normally only allows free Internet voice conversations between two users who have Skype accounts. When users purchase SkypeIn, they are assigned a "real world" phone number which can be dialled by any landline or mobile.
SkypeIn users in Australia can set the Skype phone number in any capital city. For example, a Skype user living in Sydney but who has family or friends in Melbourne can choose to have their phone number set in Melbourne. Family can then call the Melbourne number, which is then routed via the Internet to the Skype user's Sydney base. The Melbourne caller only pays for the local call.
A 12 month SkypeIn subscription costs 30 euros (approximately AU$50), with a three month subscription costing 10 euros (approximately AU$16).
Geoffrey Prentice, Skype general manager for Asia and Latin America and one of the co-founders of the company, said Australia was one of Skype's top 20 global markets, with more than 550,000 active users. Prentice said 86 percent of Australian users use Skype for personal reasons, while 14 percent use it for business.
The Australian SkypeIn offering follows an announcement earlier this week that Skype has struck deals with EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Warner/Chappell Music to globally distribute music ringtones.
Prentice, who confirmed the ringtone service will also be available to Australian Skype users, said the company would continue to add new functionality to Skype as a way of differentiating themselves from other free internet voice services like Yahoo! Messenger and MSM Messenger.
"We want to keep adding new and different things to the experience for the user," he said.