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November 08, 2006

Skype 3.0 Featuring New Click-to-Call Functionality Goes Beta

By Robert Liu, TMCnet Executive Editor


Moving ever closer toward full-scale integration with its e-commerce parent company eBay, Skype (News - Alert) on Wednesday released the latest beta version of its communications softphone, Skype 3.0 for Windows, the world’s largest Web phone and presence community announced.
The announcement confirms recent speculation that Skype 3.0 and its new feature set were imminent. When the company released v2.6 last month at the most recent ITEXPO, TMC Labs Founder Tom Keating blogged that click-to-call functionality and plugin support for browsers were under development.
In an interview with Reuters news agency, Skype Chief Executive Niklas Zennstrom explained the upgrade will feature “new services which are more targeted to e-commerce” like automatic click-to-call features that encourages users to join VoIP conversation groups.
“Click-to-call is so easy to use. For example, imagine you're searching online for a good place to eat and you find a restaurant and want to make a reservation. All you need to do is click on the number and you can make a direct call using SkypeOut,” said Henry Gomez, Chief Marketing Officer & Director of Worldwide Operations, Skype.
In a press release, the company added that two features, Skypecasts and Public Chats, will make it easier for users to join in multi-person community conversations and discussions. Skype 3.0 beta also includes a series of enhancements to the “look and feel” of Skype.
Skypecasts are now in beta and allow users to browse and join Skypecasts via a new 'live' window featured in Skype. Skypecasts are live, moderated discussions allowing groups of up to 100 people from anywhere in the world to talk to one another. In September, world-renowned mystery author Michael Connelly participated in a Skypecast to promote his newest book, Echo Park. The Skypecast lasted an hour with 35 people joining in from all over the world from England to the States to Malaysia to Italy. The participants, as well as Connelly and his publisher, were very pleased with the end result.
Skype also said members can participate in public chats, which are open, ongoing text conversations based on instant messaging where users can meet new people and chat about anything they fancy. A Skype user can start or join a public chat directly from Skype. Public chat hosts can moderate the flow and content of conversation. Hosts can also reject or ban users from public chats and set rules on who can participate and observe the conversation in progress. Public chats can be promoted using simple online links and web banners in email signatures, blogs, forums, websites or even Skype mood messages.
But clearly, the most significant new feature is Click-to-Call, an automatic online phone number recognition feature that works with both Internet Explorer and Firefox. Click-to-call allows calls to be placed the moment a Skype user clicks on a phone number listed on any Web page.
“Our long-term goal is to have much more balance between e-commerce and telecommunications revenues,” Zennstrom told Reuters.
Robert Liu is Executive Editor at TMCnet. Previously, he was Executive Editor at Jupitermedia and has also written for CNN, A&E, Dow Jones and Bloomberg. For more articles, please visit Robert Liu's columnist page.

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