I just heard about an interesting new service, tuitalk, which, if successful, could potentially alter Skype’s business model.
Let me explain: tuitalk is currently only available in Turkey. But in September, it will enter 37 countries, including the U.S. and Canada. The service allows anyone with a computer to call phone numbers in many countries around the world for free. (Remember, Skype charges for this feature, which it calls Skype Out). The catch is, the caller has to view a 30-second ad from the likes of BMW or IMAX at the beginning of the call. That’s similar to Virgin Mobile USA’s Sugar Mama program, offering users free minutes for viewing ads.
For years now, people have speculated that Skype should get more aggressive about monetizing on its network of more than 300 million users worldwide through ads. Until now, Skype has made its money by charging users for services like Skype Out. If truitalk takes off, perhaps Skype will need to reconsider its business model.