Yahoo! is buying softphone provider Dialpad. No price has been announced yet.
Here's what Dialpad is saying about the road going forward:
"Yahoo! plans on leveraging Dialpad's PSTN calling capabilities to add to Yahoo! Messenger's recently enhanced PC-to-PC voice calling offering. These products are very complementary and by combining our strengths, we are better positioned to take advantage of the fast growing IP telephony market and build a range of exciting new services."
OK, so what now? It's almost in "well, duh" territory to guess what's ahead: Yahoo! takes the Dialpad softphone UI, tweaks it a bit, and then incorporates said UI and softphone functionality into the next Yahoo! Messenger upgrade.
Questions will be raised about what this will mean for the existing SBC/Yahoo! broadband Internet access partnership. Word has it, you know, that SBC has a phone business too - one which could suffer via low-end price competition from a Yahoo!-branded softphone service.
But not necessarily. Let me explain why.
Because you need broadband to do voice, SBC/Yahoo! could actually benefit by more signups. Actually, if Yahoo! plays its cards right, they might bundle the Dialpad functionality into a co-branded softphone service with SBC. A softphone service that lives within a newly co-branded Yahoo!-SBC Messenger product.
That's a threat to Skype, which already has an IM component. But rather than build an IM component on top of a softphone platform, Yahoo! will do the reverse.
I gotta tell ya, a year or two from now, IM as a stand-alone app will be subsumed into a broader communications suite of which VoIP will play a key role.