Will Skype’s Pricing Put Its Growth On Hold?

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Skype, an Internet communications company, is now offering U.S. and Canadian customers a paid annual subscription service that will allow registered users to make unlimited to any phones located within the U.S. or Canada.

The Skype Unlimited Calling plan is available for a flat rate of $29.95 per year. However, anyone who signs up for the service before January 31, 2007 will only half to shell out $14.95 per year. Customers will also have the option of choosing SkypeOut’s pay-per-minute plan.

Skype to Skype calls will remain free, which is a relief for users of the increasingly popular VoIP service.

“The new Skype Unlimited Calling Plan is an affordable option that will save consumers hundreds of dollars compared to high rates charged by traditional phone companies,” said Don Albert, North America General Manager for Skype.

“We want to give Skype customers convenient options of choosing either an unlimited calling plan with a flat annual rate and or staying with our standard pay-per-minute offering.”

Skype, an eBay property, boasts a user base of more than 11.9 million customers worldwide. Will the implementation of a pricing structure perhaps dissuade more users from embracing its VoIP technology?

In the New York Times, industry analyst Jeffrey Halpem lacks confidence in the company’s ability to compete with traditional telephone providers.

“Skype requires a behavioral change. Consumers have grown quite comfortable using their telephones. I don’t view Skype as a real threat to the telephone companies or even Vonage or the cable companies.”

Alec Saunders, however, seems to have a differing viewpoint:

“I must disagree.

The first generation Skype / WiFi phones are coming to market now, as Glenn Fleischman noted. By all accounts they’re very good, although not as roaming phones. What they are, however, are capable replacements for the home land line. Andy Abramson expects that people will use them that way, warning however that they don’t have 911 support.

Moreover, with yesterday’s announcement of Skype Mobile 2.2 on Windows Mobile handsets, there are now 120 handsets you can use Skype Mobile on. The argument that you must carry two handsets to be mobile with Skype is simply not true. You will, however, need an unlimited data plan, or a dual mode WiFi / cellular handset.”

Skype may never become a holistic, all-in-one telephony service. It can, however, serve as a low-cost supplementary platform that perhaps our current cell-phone generation can get behind.

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.

Will Skype’s Pricing Put Its Growth On Hold?
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