It seems everybody who's anybody in technology needs to have some sort of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) feature these days. With all the tech giants piling on, it's becoming increasingly clear that this is no longer a differentiating service. Yahoo!
According to the Associated Press, Yahoo! has been testing its Yahoo! Messenger "Skype-like abilities," such as allowing people to dial regular phone numbers or receive calls from regular phones. It will be a premium service, requiring that users pay a fee, and according to the article, Yahoo! says the launch is "imminent."
Although there has been a lot of buzz about VoIP for years now, it has reached a more fevered pitch this year because of the hype over Skype (I couldn't resist the rhyme) and eBay's
Meanwhile, the instant-messaging crowd has gotten into the act, what with Time Warner's
If there's anything that confuses me a bit about this news, it's that Yahoo!'s VoIP product is not a new concept. Last spring, I wrote about how the company was testing just such a service, and way back in 2004, Yahoo! converged voice and messaging through an agreement with British Telecom.
I admit it -- I was a naysayer back then. But here lately, it's become clear that consumers are adopting such communications solutions at a rapid rate. Just consider the rather amazing rise of Skype to the forefront of public interest in very little time.
Yahoo! is definitely capitalizing off trends with its pending launch of this service. However, it's quickly becoming a crowded space, and whether this move will bring in additional revenue for Yahoo! and help its messenger service gain more users remains to be seen.
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.