Yahoo! Buys Dialpad: here's how SBC could benefit

Yahoo! is buying softphone provider Dialpad. No price has been announced yet.

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.