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Facebook-Skype Tie-Up Would Offer Enterprise Value
Posted September 29, 2010
Facebook-Skype Tie-Up Would Offer Enterprise Value
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By Jennifer LeClaire. Updated September 29, 2010 2:02PM

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Facebook is close to inking a deal with Skype to integrate the VoIP service onto its platform. All Things D first reported the tie-up, which would allow Facebook users to log onto Skype through their Facebook accounts to text, call and video chat with their social-networking friends.

The rumors emerged on the day Avaya inked its own deal with Skype, giving the reports more credibility. On Wednesday, Avaya and Skype announced a strategic agreement to deliver real-time communications and collaboration solutions to their clients.

In the Avaya deal, customers would have access to Skype Connect, which adds Skype calling to IP-based enterprise communications systems. The tie-up would provide a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) communications channel between Avaya communications systems and Skype.

"Skype is looking to monetize its substantial user base to find links to other opportunities," said Brad Shimmin, an analyst at Current Analysis. "In this case, any enterprise that's using Avaya PBX can find value. In the case of Facebook, it's really to tie the two communities together to create a more holistic solution."

Skype vs Google

Skype had 124 million average monthly connected users during the second quarter. The deal with Facebook would allow the social network to broaden the services it offers to its 500 million-plus members. It also could potentially ward off a threat from Google.

Google launched a Gmail calling feature in August. Google's service allows users to make telephone calls from the Gmail interface. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are free for at least the rest of the year. Google promised to add international calling at low rates in the near future. At 175 million, Gmail has more users than Skype.

With the new service, Google is competing with Skype, and Skype is moving quickly to establish itself on new platforms. Google may also begin competing with Facebook on some level, with a social gaming-oriented network rumored to be dubbed Google Me. The Skype-Facebook tie-up would seemingly help both companies better compete with any looming Google threat.

The Enterprise Play

But will enterprises find value in a Skype-Facebook collaboration? Shimmin thinks so. "Facebook is very much an enterprise tool. Take Avaya as an example. They have a call-center solution that is literally built on top of Facebook," he said. "So you tie Skype, Facebook and Avaya together, and Avaya customers are suddenly going to have much better integration in terms of being able to click to call into a customer center."

Back to the Avaya deal. Skype users can now make inbound calls to Avaya customers in the U.S. market for free or at a low cost. Calls will be treated with Avaya's routing, conferencing, messaging, mobility and contact-center capabilities, as well as other collaboration services.

Businesses can establish Skype click-to-call buttons for inbound calling from web sites, establish Skype online numbers for inbound calling from landline and mobile phones, and route inbound calls from a Skype user to an enterprise extension.

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