In a deal connecting two of the largest Internet services, MySpace, the social network owned by News Corp., has just teamed up with Skype, the Internet telephone service owned by eBay.
In November, MySpace will add the Skype features and brand to its instant-messenger software, which allows MySpace users to conduct text chats with each other. MySpace users who download the newest version of that software will also be able to make free calls from their computers to each other, and to anyone else on the Skype network.
Screen time: MySpacers will be able to make free calls with Skype.
“We are interconnecting the world’s largest voice network and the world’s largest video and social network,” said Michael van Swaaij, interim chief executive of Skype. “It feels like an obvious fit.”
The companies hope that the combination will accelerate the growth of two already robust online networks. MySpace has 110 million active users around the world, but its members are mostly concentrated in the US. Skype has 220 million users, most of them outside of this country.
The two companies say they will split the revenue when MySpace members use Skype’s pay features, such as voicemail boxes and calling to and from Skype accounts and regular landlines and mobile phones. They have not disclosed the exact ratio of that split.
The deal could be beneficial to both companies. MySpace’s instant-messenger software, used by about 25 million people, trails rival services from AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft in popularity and features. Those services already let people make voice calls in addition to conducting text chats. MySpace says the Skype deal helps it catch up.
The partnership gives Skype increased exposure at a difficult time. EBay recently acknowledged that it overpaid by more than a billion dollars in its $3.1 billion acquisition of Skype in 2005.
Skype and MySpace each say they will deeply integrate the other into their services. On every MySpace page, members will have a chance to click on a link and make a Skype call to another member. Skype will direct users to register for a MySpace page on several of its own sign-up pages. The two companies will also combine the member directories of Skype and MySpace instant messenger.
Skype also allows face-to-face video chats, but MySpace is not rolling out that service yet, despite the obvious fit for a social network with an emphasis on dating.
“Video calling is widely used and people love it,” said van Swaaij of Skype. “But we want to focus on getting the basics done first. That is Step 1, and we’ll take it from there.”
©2007/The New York Times
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