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Interop: Skype Looks For More Business Users

Skype is making a bigger play at business users, Stefan Öberg, general manager and VP of Skype for business, said in a keynote address at Interop on Wednesday.

"When I started at Skype in 2005, it was unthinkable that I'd be here at Interop talking about Skype as a business tool," Öberg said. "We've come a long way in those years."

For example, a large United Kingdom-based online electronics retailer uses Skype as its primary mode of internal and external communication. Another company in England does all first interview calls via Skype video so that it can save and distribute the video internally to evaluate candidates. All told, 35% of Skype's customers use the peer-to-peer communication tool for business purposes.

Skype sees a number of reasons for its increasing use in business, one of which is cost. Skype-to-Skype calls are and have always been free. Calls to landlines and cell phones, meanwhile, are very low cost -- 2 cents per minute to China, for example.

That cost has driven not only business use, but also consumer use, and Öberg said that consumer use of Skype -- and the consumerization of IT -- is the primary reason business use is catching on. "As consumer technologies get robust enough, and as employees get more tech savvy and bring in tools they use personally into the workplace, enterprises are redefining their stacks," he said.

Skype has also bolstered its software to support business use. Recently, for example, it released Skype for SIP and Skype for Asterisk, which allow anyone with a SIP-enabled IP PBX to call out or receive calls via Skype over a SIP phone. Skype is actively looking for partnerships with handset makers there.

The company also has added deployment tools and guidance for network admins who want to optimize their networks for Skype. Third parties, meanwhile, have developed tools to integrate Skype into existing employee workflow via things like toolbars for Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Office,, and Web browsers.

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