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Skype targets businesses as growth accelerates

Posted by iMark - 2005-10-26

Internet telephony firm Skype, which is being bought by eBay, reported accelerating subscriber growth on Tuesday and said it is adding a new service that makes it easier for employees to make all calls over Skype.
Skype is adding 170,000 new subscribers every day to its 61 million person user base, up from 150,000 a day until September, when Skype announced it was to be taken over by eBay for up to $4 billion.

"We definitely, coming out of the summer, have seen an acceleration of subscriber additions," said Saul Klein, vice president for marketing.

"Coming out of the summer it was 140,000 to 150,000. Now it's 170,000 a day," Klein said in a telephone interview.

"eBay is definitely one of the factors," he said, adding that eBay's home base of the United States was just one of the regions from where it saw above-average subscriber growth.

The company has almost doubled its number of registered users in the last six months.

A new service launched on Tuesday, Skype Groups, enables companies to set up Skype accounts for employees -- 30 percent of subscribers already use Skype for business calls.

With the new service, a person in a company can pick up the bill for all Skype users in an organization.

Until now, every Skype user had to individually purchase credits for calls to normal telephone numbers.

Skype calls are free when other Skype users are called over the Internet, but when normal telephone numbers are called Skype charges a few cents per minute because it uses the normal telephony network to deliver the call over the last few miles.

New toolbars for email programs and Internet browsers, introduced last week, allow employees to call their contacts straight from their PC with a few clicks, using Skype.

A survey among 400 subscribers who used Skype Groups in the trial period showed that 63 percent used it for business, abroad, avoiding expensive international calls, and almost half of them used it for free conference calls.

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