Skype's (news, site) new service helps users make calls from any phone, regardless of type, via a special phone number system.

All About the Differentiation

With rival services such as Viber, with its HD Voice offering, and Facebook's Messenger service springing up, Skype is having to do a lot of work to keep its offering distinct and ahead of the pack. Its latest product is Skype To Go, a service that lets subscribers create up to nine numbers for regular contacts such as friends and family or frequently used businesses.

Users can then ring that number from a landline, old mobile or smartphone and pay Skype's usual per minute rates for the call. It is currently available in North America, a host of European countries, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


Learning Opportunities

Friends and Family

The services has some advantages -- for example, those times when your mobile battery is dead and you forgot the charger, or you have a bunch of locations or phones you could call from regularly. Ultimately, though, this is another handy feature that adds another string to Skype's bow and enhances the offering in comparison to its rivals.

With Skype up and running as an app on most smartphones and appearing built-in on new devices all the time, today also sees it appear on Verizon's Palm Pre 2. The service is pushing its availability and usefulness to a wider range of users than ever before.

And, if new users signing up for Skype To Go invite their friends along, it has a great snowball effect. Skype could also get an extra boost from its video-calling features if next week's iPad 2 launch unveils the much-anticipated front-facing camera.