It's the moment everybody's been waiting for: seeing eBay
In just a few days, eBay users in 14 different product categories will be able to choose a special button on their listings; the button will say "Skype Me" and allow users to easily communicate with one another using either text messaging or voice. Traditionally, eBay users have used email for their communications. (Granted, I have to wonder if in the long run, email might well be a more efficient way of handling many of these communications, but I guess we'll see how it goes.)
Skype has definitely been an interesting addition to the communications universe, and it's arguably one of the names that has helped make voice-over Internet protocol (or VoIP) more commonplace among your average Internet user. Skype's been a very popular low-cost calling option overseas, although it's had a harder time making headway here in the U.S. Of course, a "Skype Me" button on eBay listings certainly lends credence to the idea that it will begin to make greater gains among American Internet users. After all, eBay has a huge customer base that will soon be exposed to the technology.
And of course, that could cause some problems for some of the other Internet giants, like Yahoo!
Talk may be cheap, but that's the whole point: If eBay's buyers and sellers take to the "Skype Me" idea (and that does remain an "if"), Skype could get a serious viral boost here in the U.S., changing the way people ring each other up for good. That's good for eBay -- maybe not so good for many of the other companies trying to offer similar services. It looks like eBay's shaking things up, just because it can.
Curious for more on eBay and Skype? See the following recent commentaries:
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.