Given all the sound-and-fury around the much speculated Skype-Yahoo mash-up, the big question that needs serious pondering is Yahoos voice gameplan. Reuters has an overview of Yahoos voice plans, and how they fit in with their partners, like British Telecom, SBC and other incumbent phone companies. They are wondering aloud about whether they should build or buy a Skype type service.
“We could put one together real quickly,” said Scott Helbing, senior vice president for consumer marketing, in a recent interview with Reuters. “We don’t have that service right now, but we’re interested in it and we’re investigating time to market and the services that are out there.”
By working with the carriers, we’ve found there’s a very nice symbiotic relationship,” Garlinghouse said. With voice messenger services, “one of the nice things with working with BT is it allows us to deliver a much higher call quality.”
In other words, they will stick to offering free PC2PC calls but would not do anything to connect with PSTN networks, lest they upset their incumbent partners. The incumbents will try and impose the pricing policies of yesterday on services of tomorrow. They have no choice, because if they dont then the deflationary forces will weight even more on their traditional voice plans. These extraneous factors will weigh on Yahoos voice plans, which despite the companys best efforts might come a cropper. What Skype has done is basically set the floor of paid-voice services, and when push comes to shove they can lower it even further. (Their ultimate exit is a flip!)
Outlandish theory: by buying Skype, and imposing incumbent pricing structure, Yahoo could help its incumbent partners by taking out what is being viewed as clear and present danger for the old line phone operators.