MySpace integrates Skype calling

MySpace integrates Skype calling

Social networking gets a voice

MySpace and Skype have announced a partnership that allows MySpace users to make VoIP calls from within the social networking site.

MySpaceIM with Skype integrates MySpace's existing IM client into Skype's voice-calling capability.

The partnership will also enable users to link MySpace profiles, photos and avatars to their Skype accounts.

Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and chief executive of MySpace, said: "Our network has no geographical boundaries, and internet calling is the natural next step for our members to communicate with each other."

The partnership has confused some commentators, however, who have questioned what Skype is likely to gain from the partnership.

"It seems pretty clear what MySpace gets out of this deal: a competitive differentiator," said John Delaney, principal analysts at Ovum.

"MySpace has 110 million users and is still fast-growing, but it has been feeling heat from the more rapid audience growth seen by rival Facebook in recent months. So MySpace needs to regain some of the initiative.

"We think that incorporating Skype into its profile pages could prove an effective way of doing that. Communication is an essential element of social networks, and the ability to add voice communication is likely to appeal to many."

But Delaney added that it is less clear what Skype gets out of the deal, the terms of which were not officially disclosed.

"We are reliably informed that Skype will not be getting a share of MySpace advertising revenues, nor do we believe that this is likely to drive very much revenue from usage of the Skype Out service.

"Most interaction between MySpace users takes place between PCs, so most embedded Skype usage will also be PC-to-PC.

"Skype may be receiving licensing revenues from MySpace for the use of its service, but that is not clear from today's announcement."

The service will not require users to download any additional Skype software and will be available by mid-November in the 20 countries where MySpace has localised communities.

It is unclear whether the calls will be routed through MySpace or Skype servers, and hence whether MySpace users will be affected if Skype suffers another crippling outage.