Yahoo launches instant-message phone in U.S.

Yahoo on Tuesday said it is launching a service in the United States that lets people make phone calls through the company’s instant messaging software.

Available in several other countries since December, the service allows people to make calls from their computers for 2 cents a minute or less to the top 30 national phone markets, including the United States.

The “Phone Out” service also allows calls from computers to regular phones at varying rates to a total of 180 countries.

Using instant messaging for phone calls is one of the latest ways that technology companies are finding cheaper ways to allow people to talk all over the world without relying on traditional phone networks.

“Right now the competition is just about cheap voice calls,” Forrester Research analyst Maribel Lopez said.

Undercutting Skype?
The move also attempts to undercut rates offered by Skype, a similar service offered by eBay.

Yahoo Messenger with Voice rates average between 20 percent and 30 percent lower than those charged by Skype to many major markets outside the United States, according to a comparison furnished by Yahoo.

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Another quick move by Yahoo to win competition in view of the success of Skype and many other up and coming VOIP services

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