A technology blog for The Economist Group IT team

Monday, June 13, 2005


The excellent PaidContent.org has picked up on a rumour that Yahoo! might partner with Skype.
I don't think it really makes sense for Yahoo! though. You can already do voice chat to an extent with the current Yahoo Messenger. The new version which is in beta has a much improved voice chat interface and also offers the ability to leave voicemail if the person you're calling is not available. The UK version of Messenger also already has the "BT Communicator" add on which works in the same way as SkypeOut - allowing you to make calls to normal phones. (SkypeOut is much cheaper than BT Communicator though)

The only type of deal I can see is if they make a deal so that Skype users can call Yahoo users and vice versa - not that there's much money in that for either side.

But I could be wrong...
But a couple of days later I read this article on The Regsiter which says Yahoo have bought a company called Dialpad who provide a way of dialling PSTN numbers from VoIP phones.

My guess is that they'll use this company to add PSTN-dialling functionality to the US version of Yahoo Messenger. As I already mentioned, the UK version already has a tie-in with BT to allow this, but it's not great for 2 reasons -

a) the charges are the same as what you would have paid if you picked up your real phone handset and dialled the number - most people would expect the charge for this type of call to be lower.

b) It relies on billing charges to your BT phone account. This is fine unless you don't have a BT account - if you have cable instead, like me for example.
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