eBay’s (EBAY) Skype is trying harder to court business users to its Internet phone service. This time, it’s via a new service called “Skype for SIP” that plugs into many existing corporate phone systems, using Skype as the plumbing. The idea is that companies could potentially save money by pushing their calls over Skype’s Internet phone network instead of using their existing phone service.
We’re happy that Skype is finally focusing on being a phone company instead of silly integrations into eBay auctions, which never made sense. But Skype has an uphill battle with corporate phone service.
eBay boasts to the Wall Street Journal that “about 35% of its customers already use the service for business purposes.” But who knows what that means. Sounds like individuals using it for some long distance or international service. The percentage of Skype’s users that are entire companies using it for primary phone service — which eBay’s trying to sell now — must be much smaller.
It’s possible that some small companies may make the switch. But phone service is the kind of things companies don’t flake on, especially bigger ones. Will eBay’s offering be cheap and reliable enough for more than the most desperate? And will Skype offer the kind of service and customer support that real companies demand from telecom service providers?
If Skype for SIP is a huge success, maybe it could help eBay unload the business. But we’re on the sidelines until we see any significant uptake.
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