Microsoft buys Internet telephony company Teleo
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Microsoft buys Internet telephony company Teleo

By agencies   |   Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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LONDON: Microsoft moved to build its presence in the booming Internet telephony market on Wednesday, purchasing Teleo Inc., a Californian company that lets users make calls from their computers to regular phones.

The Internet telephony market is heating up with the entry of leading search firm Google, which launched an instant message and voice chat service earlier this month to compete against AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and Skype.

Skype is the current market leader in Internet telephony, also called Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP. It has 51 million registered users and more than 2 million customers who pay for services like voicemail and connections with outside phone numbers.

Google, Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo all offer voice calls between computers, but not to outside phone lines.

Yahoo purchased an Internet telephony company called Dialpad earlier this summer, with plans to offer inbound and outbound phone call capabilities that are similar to Teleo's.

Analysts who follow VoIP have long predicted that Microsoft might buy Teleo, in part because Teleo's service is closely integrated with Microsoft products like Outlook and Internet Explorer.

Will Collins, global messenger product manager at Microsoft, said the company hoped to integrate Teleo's offerings into its products by the end of 2005. Microsoft may add "click-to-call" features to Outlook or Internet Explorer, so that users can automatically call a phone number by clicking on it, he said.

San Francisco-based Teleo also offers options to forward VoIP phone calls to a mobile phone or office number, or voicemail that can be emailed to the user. Outbound calls from a computer to a phone number cost $0.02 per minute. Terms of its deal with Microsoft were not disclosed.

Earlier this year, Skype Chief Executive Niklas Zennstrom spoke at a Reuters Telecoms, Media and Technology Summit and said his company had to build its user base as quickly as possible because much larger rivals were certain to enter the market. "The biggest threat are the portals such as Yahoo and MSN," he said.

Teleo, Google and Skype all use voice-processing software from a Norwegian company called Global IP Sound.


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