Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Skype's Evolution Continues

Mark Evans


Skype took another step forward with the formal launch of its affiliate program that rewards Web sites for helping the company attract more users. During a keynote speech to VON Europe, Skype CEO Niklas Zennstrom said Web sites can receive a commission of to 10% for promoting Skype. The program, managed by Commission Junction, already had more than 1,800 affiliates sign up during a test run. The first group of "super" affiliates includes 192.com, Firstream, SpyMac and MyFamily.com. The affiliate program suggests Skype's transition from a free P2P telephony service to telecom company with revenue is happening quickly. While the company does not release financial numbers, it is clear that SkypeIn and SkypeOut have become widely-used and lucrative. Another revenue source could be SkypeSee, a video-conferencing service now in beta.
On another front, it will be interesting to see how Skype addresses 911 service and how regulators deal wity Skype. If you try to use Skype to make a 911 call, this message pops up: "You cannot use Skype to many any emergency calls". During its days as a pure P2P service, there was no question Skype stood above the 911 fray. But now that it's becoming a more "traditional" telephony service, it can only a matter of time before regulators start to examine whether Skype needs to offer 911. In Canada, Skype was not included in the mandatory 911 edict because it does not offer Canadian telephone numbers.

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