Skype teams with MySpace for IM service

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NEW YORK -- News Corp.'s MySpace and eBay's Skype said Wednesday that they are partnering for an instant messaging service in a collaboration between two of the world's biggest Web services.

The partnership will combine MySpace's IM service with Skype's branding and Voice-over Internet Protocol technology. The new products will roll out in late November.

MySpace has 25 million installed users of its IM service out of 110 million active monthly users overall. Skype said it has 220 million registered users, but most of them are outside the U.S., where MySpace is still the largest social network.

To use the new voice services, MySpace users will have to download the new version of the IM software, but they will not have to download Skype software.

The service will be free, but users will have to pay for Skype's premium features, which include voicemail, a local phone number and the ability to make calls to landlines or cell phones. The companies will spilt the revenue, but the specifics of the arrangement were not disclosed.

The deal comes amid a rough patch at Skype, which eBay recently admitted it overpaid for by more $1 billion in 2005. Niklas Zennstrom, a co-founder and former CEO, recently left the company and later agreed that the partnership with the e-commerce giant had not met expectations.

MySpace also hopes to grow its IM platform through the deal. Its chat service ranks behind offerings from AOL, Yahoo and MSN, which already have voice capabilities.
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