Skype today launched the new version of its VoIP software which includes new features to experience an even simpler way to start making phone calls for free. The new Skype for Windows offers callers everything one would expect from an Internet phone and more, including increased mobility options, new ways for callers to personalise Skype with original ringtones, sounds and pictures, better than ever sound quality, as well as more ways to be sociable by making it easy to find and connect to their friends, family and colleagues online.
Skype recently embarked on a comprehensive global survey to deepen an understanding of how Internet communications is used by people around the world and what they expect from next-generation personal communications services. According to the independent study, Skype is used once or several times a day by 76% of its callers, far surpassing the usage levels of traditional IM-based voice calling services. Callers also recognized Skype's leadership in sound quality - 72% of Skype users consider call quality to be good to excellent. Skype callers are more international, with 85% communicating with people living abroad. Skype's broad base of early adopters are eager to embrace new features, with 79% interested or very interested in receiving calls from landlines, and 73% interested or very interested in adopting call forwarding, key innovations unique to Skype.
The new Skype for Windows Version 1.4, which was first available in beta in August, incorporates two new premium services requested by Skype callers, and fortifies Skype's role as a preferred complement to ordinary cell phones and landlines. It builds on Skype's already extensive product offering which allows people to instant message, set up group chats, make conference calls, transfer files, send and receive voicemails, call and be called from a traditional phone system, and access Skype over Wi-Fi for extremely low rates.
Skype's new Call Forwarding service will allow callers to forward incoming Skype calls to another Skype Name, or up to three landline or mobile numbers when they're away from Skype, at no cost to the caller. Anyone using Skype may forward their calls to another Skype Name free of charge, or forward to traditional phone numbers at low SkypeOut rates. 83% of beta testers who have tried Call Forwarding have found it easy to use.
Skype's new Personalise Skype features also allow callers to easily express themselves with original pictures, sounds and ringtones for as little as 1 euro ($1.20). This new feature opens up a new and exciting market for content providers looking to deliver great applications to Skype's global callers and is initially offered in partnership with American Greetings, Qpass and Wee World. The global ringtone market is forecast to grow to $5.2 billion in 2006, and ringtones now account for over 10% of the $32.3 billion worldwide music market (Arc Group).
The new version of Skype makes it even easier for callers to extend their social network. It's simple for callers to search Skype's Global Directory, and import personal contacts from Outlook directly into their buddy lists. With the Skype Toolbars, users can make one-click calls to numbers and Skype Names from Internet Explorer and Outlook, adding tremendous value to popular desktop applications. Advanced Skype buttons allow webmasters and bloggers to create links that instantly initiate Skype actions, such as conference calls and chats.