Skype Rings Jingle Bells
Just in time for the holidays, Internet phone maker Skyper Ltd. has released the latest version of its software that lets users chat for free over the net.
Skype beta version 0.95.0.36 was released today with several new features, including a "Quick-Add-A-Friend" tool and improved call sound quality, the company says. One of the sticking points of the service was the poor quality of the call reception, which company execs now claim is indistinguishable from a regular telephone call.
"We've fixed some bugs and it is much better now," says Niklas Zennstrom, founder of the service.
Other new features include a language editor that allows Skype users to translate the user interface into Chinese, Spanish, and other tongues. Rounding out the festive upgrades are global hotkeys and a ringtone manager, with which users can implement their own personalized ring sounds [ed. note: and be individual, just like everyone else].
Mid December saw Skype downloads surpass the 4 million mark and concurrent online users reach over 170,000 from more than 170 countries. These numbers are, unsurprisingly, starting to raise eyebrows among traditional telephone operators (see Skype Spooks Operators).
Skyper is expected to announce the first official version of the software early next year. It will include voicemail and three-way dial-in among other features, but will have a price tag. The prospective cost is a closely guarded secret, but sources close to the company tell Light Reading it could be as little as $10 per month.
In addition, Skyper is in talks with ISPs, headset and handset manufacturers, and Web portal companies to further the Skype business model. All will be revealed in the new year, the company promises.
It's also hiring in the U.K. following an undisclosed round of Series A financing this autumn.
— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Boardwatch