San Jose (CA) – Skype has begun offering free phone calls from a PC to any landline phone in North America. The company hopes that a free “SkypeOut” will increase the market penetration of Skype in the U.S. and Canada and will be available until the end of this year.
Dropping the fees from SkypeOut is the Skype’ most aggressive promotion activity so far and may trigger responses from other softphone and VoIP providers. The company continues to maintain its global dominance in the market and recently reported that it has crossed the 100 million registered subscriber mark on 1 May of this year.
“Millions of consumers around the world are flocking to Skype every month, and we believe free SkypeOut calling will rapidly accelerate Skype adoption in the US and Canada,” said Henry Gomez, general manager of Skype North America. “We’re very excited to be bringing Skype’s convenience and voice quality to so many people for free.”
At least for now, the promotion is limited to the United States and Canada and will also expire by the end of this year, Skype said. Targeted to attract more people to the SkypeOut voice calling feature, the company “anticipates that completely free calling in the US and Canada will expand Skype’s increasing penetration in North America and solidify Skype’s position as the Internet’s voice communication tool of choice.”
The company did not say whether it intends to introduce a time-limited free SkypeOut in additional geographic regions.
Last week, Skype released the download of a new beta version (v220.127.116.11) client that adds several new features such as SMS capability, Outlook contact integration, shared contact groups and slightly enhanced improved conference calling. We hear that the company is also getting close to releasing a service that would enable up to 100 users to participate in a phone conference.