Skype Thinks Twice The Price Is Nice

    March 15, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

EBay’s Skype may be taking a page out of Microsoft’s playbook. The VoIP company released a new product yesterday that seems awfully familiar, at twice the price.

The beta version of Skype Prime, part of Skype 3.1 for Windows, a widget that allows Skype users to become online, on-call experts.

For example, if you’re a business consultant of some kind, you can set up a hotline for people to call you for advice and guidance in your area of expertise. Experts can charge per minute or per call.

Payment for the service is made through PayPal, of course, and Skype receives 30 percent commission.

"If you are a financial advisor or astrologer," says Sten Tamkivi, general manager of eCommerce for Skype, "a sports coach or a tutor and you want to sell your expertise online, Skype Prime opens up a whole new market by letting you sell your knowledge to Skype’s global community."

If the Skype Prime service sounds familiar, that’s because it’s not the first time we’ve seen something like it. Back in June of last year, Ingenio’s Scott Farber was just gushing about his new Ether product, a SkypeIn application birthing what Farber called "v-commerce," or voice commerce.

Ether customers could set their own rates for phone conversations, and Ether processed payments, collecting a 15 percent commission.

The next month, in July of 2006, Charles Carleton, co-founder of Jyve, told WebProNews all about his award-winning JyvePro, a Skype-based plug-in. Earlier that year, JyvePro won the Voice Services Award from…wait for it…Skype.

Jyve teamed up with Click&Buy to process online payments made by community users seeking expert, monetizable advice. Click&Buy’s commission rate: 15 percent.

Skype says its new Skype Prime product is still in the very early stages of its lifecycle and was "built from the ground up" just like Skype itself. And who are we to say it wasn’t? Perhaps they were just too slow about releasing it.

But you have to admit the timing’s fishy, and the 30 percent commission seems inordinately steep, considering two lesser-known competitors (without the leverage of 171 million users and all that eBay money) are offering a similar – really similar – service for half the price.

We can a lot from Microsoft.