Skype Technologies SA

October 25, 2005 04:30 ET

Skype Gives Small Businesses Market Advantage; Increased Productivity, Cost Savings and Now One Easy Way to Pay with Skype Groups

LUXEMBOURG--(CCNMatthews - Oct 25, 2005) -

Skype, the pioneering Global Internet Communications Company which makes it possible for anyone with an Internet connection to make free high-quality phone calls, today announced Skype Groups, enabling one person to buy and distribute Skype's premium services to multiple Skype accounts.

Skype gives small businesses the market advantage against larger competitors by lowering operating costs and increasing productivity with voice calls, instant conference calling, group chat, file-transfer, free toll-free calling and Skype Toolbars, which lets callers make one-click calls to phone numbers directly from Outlook and Internet Explorer.

"From our research, we know that approximately 30% of our 61 million registered users rely on Skype for business purposes. We responded to their needs with Skype Groups, which will increase customer satisfaction by making it even simpler to purchase premium services," said Niklas Zennstrom, Skype CEO and co-founder. "In particular, businesses that outsource or have distributed teams will find Skype's services incredibly valuable. No longer do managers have to juggle multiple communications plans among multiple providers; with Skype Groups, all employees are on one global platform at a fraction of the cost."

First available in beta in September, Skype Groups centralises the management of pre-paid services. Group administrators can now make large credit purchases to one account, from which they can distribute credits to an unlimited number of Skype callers, as well as purchase SkypeIn and Skype Voicemail premium services for group members. All administrators can register a group for free and can purchase Skype credit through Moneybookers and bank transfers; select administrators can also use PayPal and credit cards.

"Skype has fundamentally changed the modern communication landscape by bringing high- quality free Internet voice communications to the masses. Plantronics firmly supports the use of Skype for business communication and the launch of Skype Groups will enable us to centralise the cost and streamline the overall management," said Philip Vanhoutte, MD, Plantronics EMEA. "Plantronics is Skype's preferred headset partner and we are well positioned to offer a wide range of wireless and wired headset solutions to the SME market, making the use of Skype Groups even more compelling."

From a recent survey of beta users, Skype found that small businesses in a variety of industries are using Skype Groups to lower operating costs. 25 percent of respondents are in the software and services sector, 11 percent are in business services and eight percent are involved in technology hardware and equipment.

This research found that 63 percent of users surveyed are using Skype to conduct business abroad, while 52 percent are also using Skype across regional offices and 46 percent are using Skype to conduct conference calls. This survey also discovered that 40 percent of respondents don't have a standard PBX phone system.

The research demonstrated the cost efficiencies reached as businesses save with Skype when conducting business abroad, making conference calls and communicating with regional offices. Morale of expatriate staff living in developing countries dramatically improved by being able to call family and friends more often, and increase communications between field and head office staff with Skype instant messaging. All business callers noted Skype improves cross-functional and cross-country team communications, and saves significant money on international calls.

"We are excited about the benefits that Skype Groups offers to small business collaboration", said Sunil Bhalla, senior vice president and general manager of voice communications at Polycom. "The Polycom SoundStation2 and SoundStation2W conference phones extend the Skype experience using Polycom's Computer Calling Kit. Combining Skype's high-quality Internet calling with Polycom's industry-leading voice conferencing technologies provides a compelling conferencing experience to small businesses."

Small and medium-sized businesses are rapidly adopting VoIP technologies, indicated by the fact that long-distance call volume for SMBs is on the rise, and total telecom spending is expected to continually decrease. For the increasing number of mobile employees, VoIP applications offer the ability to collaborate with team members, stay connected with customers, vendors and coworkers in real time - regardless of geographical location. SMBs in the emerging markets of China, India and Russia spent $19.4 million on VoIP in 2003, and are expected to spend over $200 million in 2008 (Source: AMI Partners).

About Skype Technologies SA

Skype, the Global Internet Communications Company™, allows people everywhere to make free, unlimited, superior quality voice calls via its award-winning innovative peer-to-peer software for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and Pocket PC platforms. Skype is available in 27 languages and is the fastest growing voice communications offering worldwide. Since its launch in August 2003, Skype has been downloaded more than 186 million times in 225 countries and territories. 61 million people are registered to use Skype's free services, with more than 3 million people using Skype simultaneously at any one time. Skype earns revenue through its premium service offerings, and has a growing network of global affiliates, and a community of developers working with the Skype APIs. Skype Technologies SA is headquartered in Luxembourg and has offices in London and Estonia.

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