Yahoo Messenger launches U.S. Phone In and Phone Out

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Yahoo Messenger launches U.S. Phone In and Phone Out

A new public beta of Yahoo! Messenger with Voice is launching today, which you can download here. Yahoo launched the international roll-out of Yahoo Phone In and Yahoo Phone Out back in December, and now today they are launching the general availability of Yahoo Phone In and Yahoo Phone Out for the U.S. Calls within the U.S. and to more than 30 other countries can be made for two U.S. cents a minute or less. Specific calling rates can be found at Pre-paid credit plans available in $10.00 and $25.00 increments.

For Yahoo Phone In you can select your own personal phone number and receive calls from your PC or mobile phone for $2.99/month or discounted to $29.90 a year which equates to $2.49/month. Comparatively, SkypeIn (also still in beta) is $12 for 3 months or $4/month - making Skype $1.01 more than Yahoo Phone In. Skype discounts their yearly subscription for SkypeIn at $38/year or $3.16/month which is $0.67 more per month than Yahoo Phone In when using Yahoo Phone In's yearly rate. You can also choose to have multiple phone numbers in different countries. In the beta service, country-based phone numbers are initially available in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States with additional country-based numbers available in the coming months.

Unlike Skype, Yahoo will come with free voicemail and it is integrated directly with Yahoo Mail, so you can retrieve your email and voicemail from Yahoo! Mail. Yahoo! Mail will also display the presence information of your buddies and enable you to call your buddies.

I spoke with Yahoo and they told me that as part of this beta release Yahoo with introduce ads at the bottom of the Yahoo Messenger client. "Yahoo! has made the strategic business decision to increase monetization of Yahoo! Messenger with the introduction of an unobtrusive ad in the client. As part of our thoughtful and considerate approach, we conducted a variety of usability tests and focus groups to ensure we are introducing it the right way. Our users told us that because we are providing a valuable free service, they accept ads. Ads will allow us to put even more resources behind developing and delivering compelling features."

A huge part of this announcement is that Yahoo told me they will be licensing Global IP Sound renowned VoiceEngine which ensures a high-quality VoIP call experience. The downloadable public beta release will be the first version with the GIPS codecs. Yahoo! Messenger with Voice is leveraging the GIPS VoiceEngine Multimedia infrastructure to deliver superb voice quality. GIPS Voice Engine Multimedia is a voice and video processing solution that handles all of the complex quality issues that come with IP communications including jitter delay, packet loss and acoustic echo. Yahoo Messenger doesn't currently have video, but I'm sure when they add it, they'll leverage GIPS's video processing algorithms.

Finally, they added a "Contact Search Bar". The new Contact Search Bar provides a fast way to find and quickly connect with friends and family. As people type their friends’ names, Yahoo! IDs, phone numbers, nicknames or any other information stored in their contact details, matching results will automatically populate the Contact Search Bar.

This version of Yahoo Messenger will leverage the Dialpad network for termination which Yahoo acquired last year.

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