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Monday, 12 February 2007 11:13

Skype: biggest is not always best

Price comparisons between different VoIP offerings are not easy, and, according to market research firm, Market Clarity the overarching presence of Skype is stifling critical analysis.

Following Skype's recently announced pricing changes, Market Clarity CEO, Shara Evans commented: "Because it has had the good fortune of becoming the default brand of Internet-based VoIP, Skype is often able to rely on a light hand from the media. So it was when the company restructured its tariff sheet in late January: with a little PR sleight-of-hand and a couple of 'Skype comes to [fill in country name here]' announcements, stings in the Skype price tail were overlooked by most." (but not by iTWire).

Market Clarity did a spot check of Skype pricing against "one competing high-profile Australian VoIP provider," and concluded: "The hypothetical user would only save around $3 per month using Skype compared to the local provider if he or she took the cheapest plan. The more calls the user made, the more competitive the local provider."

Evans later told iTWire " I would certainly hope that we could see the local VoIP market taking a more active role in positioning their brands, because it's not beneficial for consumers to have everybody believing that 'VoIP equals Skype'."

She added that price comparison between different offerings was not a trivial task. "When [a colleague] and I analysed VoIP against PSTN pricing using a real telephone bill, in early 2006, with only a sample of ten VoIP providers we needed several days to complete the analysis. The same is true for VoIP versus VoIP: plans are so complex that a simple one-to-one comparison of plans is frequently meaningless."

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