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Yahoo! to take on Skype with new VoIP service ? - 8/17/2005 4:10:31 AM   

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The battle for the consumer voice over IP (VoIP) market is heating up, with one analyst predicting Yahoo! will launch a new internet telephony service within the next two weeks.

Safa Rashtchy, internet analyst with Piper Jaffray, said in a research note that the new service with be similar to the popular VoIP application Skype, which uses peer-to-peer technology and allows calls between PCs and standard telephones.

Rashtchy expects Yahoo! to launch a basic service with advertising and "potentially" a paid-for premium service as well.

"VoIP is fast becoming the 'killer app' of the internet and this move should push Yahoo! ahead of its competitors," he wrote in the research note.

Yahoo! already offers PC-to-PC VoIP calls via its instant-messaging client and, after the acquisition of internet telephony services company Dialpad in June, the launch of a new service would not surprise some industry observers.

James Enck, European telecom analyst at Daiwa Securities, told "We've seen this one coming for some time and it's not at all surprising."

Skype is currently the number one consumer VoIP application, according to recent figures, and boasts more than 30 million registered users.

A new Yahoo! service could certainly step up the competition but Skype appeared calm about the rumours. A company spokesperson told "We don't look at what other companies are doing. Our core DNA is listening to our user base and innovating according to their demands."

Daiwa Securities' Enck admits a new Yahoo! VoIP offering would put some pressure on Skype - but also sees broader repercussions for the telecoms industry. "I would say that the implications are most direct for Skype, given its positioning. However, this is yet another source of pressure and potential disintermediation for the incumbent players in voice," he said.

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