Forbes.com: Can Skype Cash In On Free? "Skype Technologies made a name for itself providing a free Internet telephone program to users around the world. Now it's time to cash in. The company announced today it's planning to launch a paid service for businesses and expand its premium offerings.
"We will be making a special offering towards business users sometime next year in order to better serve their specific needs," says Chief Executive Niklas Zennstrom. Changes to the software will include the ability to integrate Skype's software into corporate intranets or calling directories, allowing users to click on a co-worker's name and automatically initiate a call, as well as simplified group billing for its existing SkypeOut service. Zennstrom said a price has not yet been set.
Other premium products under development include voice mail, custom-built phone hardware including a cordless phone from Siemens (nyse: SI - news - people ) and a gateway to the traditional phone network allowing users to have their own number and receive calls from outside the Skype network.
But even if Skype isn't making its investors much money yet, it's already having an effect on its competitors, putting price pressures on the entire world of telephony.
"It's a threat to the business models of everyone else," says Burton Group analyst David Passmore. "It's in effect something that competes not only with the existing public-switched telephone network, but also competes with these other parasitic services that make use of broadband."