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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Solution Providers Attack Skype's Business Offering for not being Business-Ready

Solution providers for small businesses have criticized Skype’s new VoIP solutions, stating they are not ready to be used and therefore could hinder the growth of the company.

Skype for Business debuted March 9 and gives small business users low and even no cost Internet phone service. The offering also provides Web support, Skype hardware and a control panel that can help companies manage groups of users as well as many prepaid services. The product emerged when it was announced that 25 to 30 percent of the 75 million users already using Skype, now affiliated with Ebay, for business purposes.

Skype already has routes into the business sector and many distributors and solution providers have already offered the service to resellers. But many solution providers feel the product has not yet been properly marketed to be taken seriously by business customers.

Although Skype has started initiatives to enter the business sector before Skype for Business, it does not yet have a proven track record among those types of clients. A Skype spokesman announced that the percentage of Skype users cited as being actual users of the Skype for Business product was not very officially calculated and simply taken from the number of visitors to the company’s business website. According to solution providers and other critics, these figures give no indication of how the service is being used by businesses.

The hardware that is offered as part of the Skype for Business package can be loaded into the laptops, PC’s and wireless wide-area network handsets provided by major companies. Although Skype is one of the first services of its type to present this offering in the business sector, it will soon have competition from companies such as TelTel and others later in the year.

While many companies such as D-link have introduced wireless Internet phones that run Skype, the phones have not yet gone into production, proving that availability of resources to use Skype for Business are at the moment quite limited. Many companies, including D-link, have chosen to go with TelTel and companies with more of a business-geared marketing plan because they already have the potential to reach a broader range of customers in that sector.

While solution providers are skeptical about Skype’s reputation and its ability to truly offer good service to businesses, it is already very popular in the consumer market and has experienced great growth since its inception. It was bought by Ebay for approximately $2.6 billion in September 2005.

Blogged By: Joshua Feinberg