Yahoo Buys VOIP Provider, Blog Update Service

 
 
By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2005-06-15
 
 
 
In a spree of acquisitions, Yahoo Inc. is laying the groundwork to make its instant messaging service talk with the traditional phone networks and to play a bigger role in distributing Weblog updates.

Officials with the online company confirmed two separate acquisitions on Tuesday—its purchase of Dialpad Communications Inc., a consumer Internet telephony provider, and its addition of syndication-feed pinging service blo.gs.

Yahoos purchase of Dialpad is likely to gain the most attention because it positions the company squarely in competition with consumer VOIP (voice over IP) services such as Skype Technologies S.A. as well as with America Online Inc.s rival IM service, which has laid out plans to add VOIP features.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo also is in a close relationship with one of the nations largest traditional phone companies, SBC, as part of the SBC Yahoo DSL service.

With Dialpad, Yahoo is planning to expand the voice options in its Yahoo Messenger IM service. Yahoo Messenger users in the next few months will gain the ability to connect what has been only PC-to-PC voice calls to the public-switched telephone network (PSTN)—both outbound and inbound, a Yahoo representative said.

"We want to combine the strengths of both companies and build upon our current voice services to bring to them to the next level and to combine Dialpads PSTN calling capabilities," spokeswoman Terrell Karlsten said.

Yahoo in May launched a new version of the Yahoo Messenger client that expanded the voice features, which had remained focused on voice calling between Yahoo Messenger users.

Dialpad, of Milpitas, Calif., was founded in 1999 and offers Internet telephony services that range from monthly and prepaid plans in which users make calls from PC client software to a calling card for use from a phone. In an announcement on its site, Dialpad said it will continue to offer its services, except for the calling card option.

Yahoo completed the acquisition of Dialpad on Monday, but terms were not disclosed. Most of Dialpads employees will be moving to Yahoo, Karlsten said.

On the blogging front, Yahoo bought blo.gs and has began running the pinging service on its servers. Blo.gs receives notifications from blog publishers about site updates, and then makes those updates available to other services such as aggregators of RSS and Atom feeds.

Pinging services like blo.gs, Weblogs.com and others are a critical part of the infrastructure for distributing blog and feed updates.

Click here to read more about how feed updates are beginning to move beyond simple pings.

Jim Winstead, the developer behind the blo.gs service, first noted that it was being sold in May. On Tuesday, he posted the news of its purchase by Yahoo.

"Yahoo obviously has the resources to run and improve blo.gs in pace with the incredible growth of blogs (and syndication in general)," Winstead wrote.

Yahoo over the past year or so has incorporated RSS into more of its services, and the purchase of blo.gs will help it stay up-to-date on feeds being read on Yahoo services such as My Yahoo, Yahoo News and Yahoo Mobile, according to Scott Gatz, Yahoos senior director of personalization products.

But blo.gs will continue to be operated as a broad industry service, he said. It will remain open to blog-publishing tools, aggregators and other competing services. In addition, Yahoo plans to start contributing updates from its own pinging service to blo.gs, Gatz said.

"We see things eye-to-eye with Jim," Gatz said. "Its important for publishers to have a place to tell [everyone] that their content has been updated and to make sure its updated across Yahoo services and across the Web."

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