Aswath also points out that the feature set Skype is implementing looks suspiciously like Pulver’s FWD features from a few years ago. Two points:
Skype has already implemented a micropayment system. When you buy Skype credit, and you can spend it on minutes, DIDs, voicemail, or downloadable goodies to go with your Skype client. With this announcement, they are just extending that system to include third parties. I don’t necessarily think this is artificial, since they are the gatekeeper to their customers. It’s simply an old fashioned channel distribution model.
Skype is already more than a softclient. They’ve become a VNO as they’ve implement Skype-In/Skype-Out and voicemail. The burning question is how open they will become. Will they be like AOL? Who can play in their walled garden? What will be the cost?
For the time being, the Skype Voice Services model is very expensive. Hopefully we will see this come down dramatically. If not, then they are creating the circumstances under which a more open, more cost effective competitor can arise.