Skype Lanches v. 3.1, with Local Search Features

Skype officially launched version 3.1 earlier this week. As we wrote about in the post Skype’s One-Two Punch a few weeks ago, this will have a local search feature that lets users search (and call) local businesses.

This has a clear tie-in to its core VoIP product and creates a nice formula on which to develop a pay-per-call model. And what local search product launch would be complete these days without the social media components ( to rate, review and share info on local businesses)? Like the business search function, this will tie together nicely with Skype’s already existing social qualities.

There is also more to the new version, which CNET News explores. One new feature called Skype Prime will build upon the product’s social networking qualities to facilitate interaction between buyers and sellers around knowledge of products and services. This will create a marketplace for knowledge to be transferred over VoIP. Rates will be established by knowledge “providers” of which Skype will take a 30 percent cut.

After essentially being tested in this venue, something similar could be used as a free (value add to the core product) or fee-based feature within eBay’s massive network. Here there are many buyers and sellers and a clear opportunity to facilitate conversions around the products being auctioned.

There is a great deal that Skype can do to add value to eBay while continuing to develop its own independent value proposition. The former still has many question marks, but the latter is starting to be seen. These are the right moves so far for Skype to take advantage of growth in local search (Kelsey Group Projections here), social networking, the product’s core offering, and its large (and loyal) global installed base.

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