Skype 3.0 Beta Adds Shopping Feature

VoIP provider Skype released a new beta to its users on Wednesday, adding click-to-call functionality aimed at increasing its use in e-commerce applications. The company also plans to add additional features aimed at generating revenue from the free service.

Skype 3.0 would bring to fruition the online business functionality that eBay alluded to when it purchased the company last year. Many questioned the move, saying the price the auction site paid was well above its worth.

However, whatever Skype is doing, it's working: the company expects to generate $195 million in revenue for 2006, more than twice the $60 million it made the previous year. Going forward, Skype aims to build revenue based on e-commerce applications.

Another new feature would allow a user to be able to manage up to 100 Web-based chats with users, regardless of whether or not they have the VoIP software installed. The feature could be embedded into any Web page using just a few lines of code.

GigaOM's Katie Fehrenbacher gave the new beta version of Skype high marks. "Probably the most interesting feature is the plug-ins for Firefox and IE that turns phone numbers on web sites into Skype buttons where users can click-to-call," she said.

"This will be really helpful for stimulating click-to-call ecommerce, and must have been on the level of what eBay had in mind when they purchased the company," Fehrenbacher continued.

Skype counts about 136 million registered users, according to recent company reports.

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