Skype did always maintain that the free North American calling promotion would go away at the end of this year, and they’ve now made it official. Skype 3.0 for Windows has gone gold today along with the news that starting in January it will cost $29.95/year for outbound (Skype Out) calling to the U.S. and Canada. There is a $14.95/year introductory rate for those who sign up for the plan during the first month.
$30 a year pretty drastically undercuts most other comparable calling plans, but it’s a whole lot more than free and it can be difficult to get people to change their habits and start paying for something they’ve gotten used to getting for no cost. Especially with the inconsistent and sometimes extremely poor quality that many (including myself) experience with Skype Out calls to the PSTN, this may put a dent in their North American usage. The change is being hailed by some as a welcome move towards a business model that might actually generate some real revenue though. IP Democracy points out:
The $29.95/year charge is slightly noteworthy because it reflects the first viable attempt by Skype to start generating serious mass-market revenues since the VoIP pioneer was purchased by eBay in October 2005 for $2.5 billion, a figure scoffed at by some industry experts as exhorbitant. Now, at least, eBay is on the road to getting a reasonable payback from Skype.