January 27, 2005 7:31 AM PST

No-cost Skype strikes chord with businesses

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The Internet telephony software Skype has found its way into the business world, as corporate road warriors and remote workers use it to reduce long-distance and cell phone costs.

Most of today's Skype adherents use it for personal calls, but a growing number of them are also using it to make calls for work.

"I realized while I was traveling overseas how difficult it is for my remote staff and traveling salespeople to communicate with each other," said Don LeBeau, CEO of Aruba Wireless Networks, a maker of Wi-Fi networking gear. "Skype has been a great tool for helping us increase communication. Not to mention it saves us money."

Over the past year and a half, Skype's popularity has exploded. Currently, there are about 23 million users signed up for the service, which allows no-cost phone calls over the Internet, according to the company. By 2008, that number is expected to jump to between 140 million and 245 million, says market research company Evalueserve. As more business customers start using the software, Skype's subscriber numbers could grow even higher.

In October, LeBeau sent a memo to his top executives at Aruba urging them and the people who report to them to start using Skype, which bears the same name as the company that produces it. Today, many of Aruba's 170 employees use the software to communicate with colleagues on the road or in any of a dozen or so offices in the United States, Europe and Japan. Aruba has even placed a button on its home page to allow prospective customers to contact the company via Skype.

Aruba isn't the only company that has discovered Skype. Employees at Ruhrpumpen, an industrial pump manufacturer in Tulsa, Okla., started using Skype last summer to communicate with co-workers and business partners in Asia, Central America and Europe. The company has even put a directory with Skype contacts on its intranet. About 70 people out of the 1,000 that work for the company are registered Skype users.

"One of our business partners introduced it to us," said Tom Wallbank, an IT manager at Ruhrpumpen. "Now, I use it a few times a week to talk to our guys in Mexico and Germany. And I'm not even one of the heavy users."

Skype executives have already recognized there is opportunity in the business market. As a result, they plan to introduce a new set of business offerings later this year. The idea is to create a package similar to the free Skype, but with extra features, such as videoconferencing, user groupings and company directories, that business customers would be willing to pay for.

"The Skype for Business offering will address ways to better serve the business community and targeted toward individuals and workgroups, not CIOs for enterprise wide deployments," said Niklas Zennstrom, CEO and co-founder of Skype, during a keynote address at the Internet Telephony Expo in October.

Skype's newfound business users say they're very interested to see what the company has to offer. But selling a service to these companies for a fee won't be a slam dunk.

"We will definitely check out their new offering when it comes out," Wallbank said. "Of course, we'll have to compare it to what others offer. Nothing really beats free."

14 comments

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care to tell us how they use skype?
Do they use a microphone? Or headsets from Plantronics? Or plug in a hotel phone through a portable skype usb adapter like rapidbox?
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Specifics on how companies use Skype
The sense I got from the companies that I talked to for this story was that how people used Skype was up to the individual. In other words, there was no formal corporate roll-out, where everyone was issued standard equipment. Some people have taken it upon themselves to buy their own headsets while others just use a microphone on their laptops. Thanks, Marguerite Reardon, CNET reporter.
Posted by MaggieReardon (140 comments )
Link Flag
Cheap voip without the need to install more software on your PC!
If people used Asterisk [http://asterisk.org|http://asterisk.org] Combined with <a href="http://www.e164.org">e164.org</a> free lookups the whole process becomes transparent, and people don't have to go out of their way to make "special" cheap/free calls, it can all be done automatically at the PABX/PBX level and all the person thinks is they've made a call, they don't care how it got to the person.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
NERD!
And what sales manager/account executive/anyone other than a tech person is going to set that up on the fly?

Yet another example of a techie contriving a reason to use WAY more than is necessary.
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
Skype is revolutionary
I've been using Skype since it was in Beta, and I have to tell you that it is absolutely revolutionary. The audio quality is far better than the telephone. I use my computer's speakers and a headset microphone. It honestly feels like the person you're talking with is in the same room.

All you need is to install the free software on your PC. You can choose to make your contact information (your skype name etc.) public if you want. If you do, like me, you'll probably get occasional calls from people on the other side of the planet who want to try out their english. (I've gotten calls from Lithuania, The Czech republic and other eastern european countries.)

I've since removed my name from the public directory, and use Skype only for communicating with friends and co-workers. Even for local communication (i.e. no telephone charge), I prefer Skype.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Tried purchasing SkypeOut credit?
Skype is definately a remarkable program. I just wish I could purchase credit for SkypeOut (for PC to PSTN calls). I've tried unsuccesfully numerous times and all their help department can say is to 'keep trying'... I'm not alone either:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://radio.weblogs.com/0121664/categories/skypeAndVoip/2004/12/14.html" target="_newWindow">http://radio.weblogs.com/0121664/categories/skypeAndVoip/2004/12/14.html</a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://forum.skype.com/viewtopic.php?t=15590" target="_newWindow">http://forum.skype.com/viewtopic.php?t=15590</a>

For those of you who can't buy SkypeOut credit, here are some other options to Skype:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.netphonedirectory.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.netphonedirectory.com</a>

Cheers
Posted by Joe B (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Open Source
All OS progs has started as 'nerdy' projects. Soon you will see a user friendly version!
Posted by (2 comments )
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No probs for me
I bought 10¬ worth of calling. Works perfectly. I'm from Sweden. Home of Skype and Kaaza ;-)

I have been talking to my cousin in Schweitz for hours and the count has just dropped to around 8 ¬.

He can't here any difference from telephone.

But as I wrote in another thread here soon you will see a user-friendly open source alternative.

Such an alternative might prevent Skype from start charging you pc to pc calls
Posted by (2 comments )
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How do I integrate POTS with skype?
I'm looking for a way to use my POTS phone with Skype's service. Would anyone know how to integrate this. My computer microphone has limited range of motion, and I'd like to use my portable telephone with this service.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We provide good solution of you.
Dear Rosie,
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Okinawa.
As the adaptor that connects a DOTS with Skype is prepared in
my company.
I think the function to think that you are perhaps necessary to
be filled.
Please see my website
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.sugukau.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.sugukau.com/</a>
if you would like to check it.
Then, our website written in Japanese so, it can be seeing by
translating into English because the machine translation button
is on the website.
Please E-mail me freely if it is interested in.
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
Skype + handheld
Could that be our next cellular phone?
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
hedeki oshiro
im just wondering if you went to kaewai elemetry, hedeki oshiro...
reply at fireoffenex@hotmail.com Oh yeah it's Oulay by the way
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
operating cost of skype
Plz i am sorry but ur aricle was really good but i can't able to find the thing for which i was looking for it would be a great favour if u plzzzzzzzzzz help in knowing the operating cost of skype plzzzzzzzzzz,
Sir i m preparing a eassy on this topic n i can't anle to find out the running cost of skype
if u plzzzzz let me knoe about it
i will be very thankful to u
Posted by jatt89 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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