Yahoo has upgraded its Messenger chat program with improved dial-out and dial-in features. Yahoo's "Phone Out" offers calls to regular and mobile phones for $0.01 a minute in the U.S. and $0.02 a minute to about 30 other countries, and unlimited in-bound calls to a user's PC via a number of your choice for $3 per month or $30 per year. The key point: that signficantly undercuts Skype (recently acquired by eBay), which charges 2.3 cents a minute for PC-to-phone calls to anywhere (including the U.S.), and $35 a year for unlimited inbound calls from the PSTN.
Three quick investment take-aways:
- eBay paid a rich sum for Skype. Even if Yahoo doesn't gain significant market share, this announcement suggests that it may be harder for Skype to turn its free service into a highly profitable revenue-generating service. If traditional telcos are suffering from price pressure in plain-vanilla telephony, there's no reason why the new VoIP players won't face the same problems.
- According to Om Malik, Yahoo is switching network providers, dumping Net2Phone in favor of connecting directly to SBC, Verizon and Bell South. IDT (ticker: IDT) recently launched a tender offer for Net2Phone.
- Will the Vonage IPO make it out? Would you want to buy stock in Vonage with the VoIP market changing so rapidly?