Skype Says It Means Business

The Net phone operator goes after small to midsize businesses with new gear and features.

Retailer eBays Internet phone division, Skype Technologies, on March 9 introduced new features and hardware meant to capture a larger share of the enterprise phone market.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about how search giant Google may be the next big telco.

Usually associated with just consumers, Skype discovered last year that nearly a third of its customers were using the features at work. With the latest initiative, the company is trying to capitalize on this customer segment.

Luxembourg-based Skype and Vonage Holdings of Holmdel, N.J., are the two best-known providers of voice over IP. VOIP is used to transform an Internet connection into an inexpensive (sometimes free) local, long-distance and international phone.

"We know from listening," Skype CEO Niklas Zennstrom said in a statement.

To that end, Skype unveiled a new Internet site,, where businesses can better manage their Skype accounts; more tightly integrated Skype into Microsofts Outlook e-mail features; and introduced a new headset from electronics maker Plantronics.

VOIP has clearly resonated with consumers and businesses, but it still has yet to match the lofty expectations of market analysts.

Whats slowing adoption by enterprises, and consumers, are continued difficulties operators have routing 911 calls, keeping service continual and making it easy to use.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about issues at a VOIP industry gathering the week of March 6.

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