Earlier today we broke the news that Skype was ramping up in preparation for new web-based products — a big shift for the company, which has historically offered its extremely popular service via native desktop clients.
Now we’ve heard more details from one source about what this new service may entail. We’re still working to firm up the specifics, but here’s what we’ve gathered so far:
According to our source, Skype is hoping to launch its web-based service in the first quarter of next year. The launch will likely include integrations on multiple partner sites — Skype is gunning for some big partners, and we hear that LinkedIn has been in discussions about a possible integration (LinkedIn declined to comment).
As for the web service itself, we hear it will actually be based on browser plugins — this isn’t a full HTML5 solution (note that Google took a similar approach with its own web implementation of Google Voice earlier this year). Skype will promote the plugins to users of its existing native apps.
To monetize, we hear that Skype will be offering a number of premium features, which may include SMS functionality and advanced telephony options. Partner sites that integrate Skype will get a revenue split for the users that they drive toward these premium features. It is possible that these premium features may not be slated for the initial release and will roll out later.
Finally, in addition to the hiring boost we reported earlier today, Skype is also planning to bolster its growth in these areas by acquiring smaller companies.
Obviously VoIP service is going to play an increasingly important role in the coming years, and it sounds like if Skype has its way, it will become a standard feature on many of the web’s most popular sites. We’ll keep digging for more.