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Monday, February 26, 2007

Skype Gets Ambitious, Adds Business Directory

Skype 3.1 Beta was released a couple of days ago, and along with all the user interface tweaks and bug fixes came a new feature called SkypeFind. It's essentially a user-generated directory of businesses. You can submit new businesses to the directory and also comment or review your experiences with them. Very Web 2.0 of them.

If all this sounds far removed from making calls over the Internet, there's more. Naturally, SkypeFind includes a handy call button next to each business listing so you can make a SkypeOut call to the phone number in the listing. This might remind some readers of a similar feature that Google integrated into its Maps product: a click-to-call feature that let users make free long distance calls to businesses listing on the map. SkypeOut calls aren't free of course.

Now that Skype has been installed on millions of computers worldwide and well-integrated into the daily routines of individuals and businesses, eBay, Skype's owner, is in a strong position to bundle other unrelated services along with the basic phone software, and this new SkypeFind feature feels like a test case to see if this sort of thing appeals to Skype users.

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