Skype targets corporate voice market

VoIP specialist Skype has begun a push into the corporate market by tailoring its software to work with SIP-based PBX systems.

Skype for SIP will be targeted at small to medium-sized businesses. Customers will be able to dial out and receive Skype calls directly from their PBX systems, or take advantage of the SkypeOut service to make external calls, Skype said.

Stefan Oberg, who heads Skype business division, said the product "combines the cost savings and reach of Skype [and] with its large user base, with the call handling functionality, statistics and integration capabilities of traditional office PBX systems."

Skype, which was bought by eBay for $2.6 billion in 2005, took in $550 million in revenue last year, mostly consumer IDD calls.

"Businesses have been waiting for Skype to make a concerted push into the business space for a while," said IDC analyst Rebecca Swensen. "Connecting to existing standards-based SIP PBXes is a good way for Skype to start doing so."

IDC researchers have estimated that 438,000 PBXes were shipped worldwide in 2008.

A beta version of the product has been released and is now being trialled. Businesses can sign up to the beta here, on the condition that they have an installed SIP-based IP-PBX and can configure their PBX to support it.

Digium CEO Mark Spencer last week said Skype had been adapted to work with open-source PBX platform Asterix. Spencer said Skype for Asterix was "the first practical Skype gateway from a PBX platform."