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Communications

eBay Wants Voice Phone Free In Five Years 185

kmk writes "In a few short years, users can expect to make telephone calls for free, with no per-minute charges, as part of a package of services through which carriers make money on advertising or transaction fees, eBay's chief executive said on Wednesday."
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eBay Wants Voice Phone Free In Five Years

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  • Ads? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elbenito69 ( 868244 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:00PM (#13839365)
    I would much rather pay for phone service than to put up with ads on the telephone, of all places.
    • Re:Ads? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:03PM (#13839407)
      Not to worry. Following TV and cable, you WILL pay and also have to listen to the ads.
      • Re:Ads? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ScoLgo ( 458010 )
        "Not to worry. Following TV and cable, you WILL pay and also have to listen to the ads."

        I gotta agree with this sentiment. It's inevitable that advertising will try to worm its way into every possible medium. This is why I subscribed to Sirius satellite radio now - while it's still mostly ad-free. Once the full-on advertising kicks in, (a la cable tv), I'll be cancelling my subscription.

        • Re:Ads? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jonathan the Nerd ( 98459 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:17PM (#13839547) Homepage
          It's inevitable that advertising will try to worm its way into every possible medium.

          Leela: "Didn't you have ads in the twentieth century?"

          Fry: "Well, sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio...and in magazines...and movies, and at ballgames, and on buses, and milk cartons, and T-shirts, and bananas, and written in the sky. But not in dreams, no sirree."

      • The difference is that with TV and cable, the content is created for you - you are the creator of your own content with a telephone call. The telecom provider is the same as your cable provider - they both charge on a monthly basis, except a telecom provider ALSO charges per minute.

        And well, a TV production company charges the viewer for their costs in the form of advertising...

        So I don't think we have to worry a lot about dual-priced telephone calls in the form of advertising and money...

        • electric- charge for delivery service (the connection)
          electric- charge for electricity consumed

          Telephone- charge for basic service
          telephone- charge for making calls

          Water- charge for service
          water- charge for useage
          water-charge for sewer service
          water-charge for sewer volume

          cable tv- charge for service
          cable tv- useage subsidised by commercials or premium payments for some channels.
          • Go to an NFL game: pay a lot for tickets, see the same commercials on the big screen as the TV viewers see. How's that for paying to receive ads?
      • Fortunately, under Betamax, you will be able to timeshift your conversations using a PCR (Personal Conversation Recorder) and skip the ads. That is unless your conversations are flagged to protect their copyright integrity.
        • Fortunately, under Betamax, you will be able to timeshift your conversations using a PCR (Personal Conversation Recorder) and skip the ads. That is unless your conversations are flagged to protect their copyright integrity.

          Yeah, the only problem is that you have to start the conversation 10 minutes after you get the call.
      • In the year 2020, the only way to block 24/7 ads is to gougue out your eyes and pop your eardrums.

        However, by 2021 nanobots will constantly press on the skin of the deaf and blind with brail ads.
        • I'd think that by 2020, advertisers wouldn't need such crude input paths. Better yet to just repeatedly impress ads directly on your brain. They could have you experience virutally buying their product so many times that you buy it out of force of habit without thinking.

          At that point, the only way to avoid avertising would be to remove your brain. Of course so many people seem to function without brains now that they could just operate your body instead.

        • In 2020 everything will be owned and produced by ChinaCo(tm) and therefore no advertising needed!

          YOU WILL BUY A NEW CHINACO(tm) PRODUCT

      • Only the stupid masses (i.e. you and I) would pay money to go watch advertisements...oh yeah, and afterwards watch some movie that's probably not that great anyway. But it was worth it because of the $10 popcorn combo, right? You can buy a huge rib-eye steak at your local butchershop with that money! :(

        Off topic I know...

    • Re:Ads? (Score:3, Funny)

      by garcia ( 6573 )
      "The number you have reached is no longer in service. Please check the advertisement and try again. Zero, one, four, twenty."
    • "Our belief is that the winner in this space will be those that have the largest ecosystem," Whitman said.
      At least Whitman didn't use the work "monetize". I heard that a whole bunch before the .com crash.

      I wonder if the the DND rules in the US would apply to ads on the phone? Perhaps not if you had a choice in selecting your Telco.

    • Re:Ads? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Seumas ( 6865 )
      Great. So they'll have voice recognition listen to all of your conversations and interrupt with interesting advertisements relating to the conversation you're currently having with the other person. *sigh*

      I'll keep paying the $20/mo, thanks.
      • Re:Ads? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:44PM (#13839803)
        Male voice: Hello?
        Female voice: Hi, John, I just thought I'd give you a ring and see how you're doing?
        Male voice: Hey, I'm glad you called, I...

        Announcer: HI! DO I DETECT A HAPPY YOUNG COUPLE? HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF USING TROJAN (TM) BRAND CONDOMS?

        Male voice: Uh...
        Female voice: Uh...
        Male voice: Look, mom, this isn't a good time. Maybe we can talk at Thanksgiving?
        Female voice: Yeah...
    • I concur. Does anyone remember those "listen to a twenty second ad and talk for a minute" schemes? It was so infuriating to listen to those ads, I couldn't even use it just to make a quick "I need to be picked up" call from a payphone. There not a ghost of a chance something like this would survive, unless they had some way of making *far* less obnoxious ads. VoIP telephone service is cheap enough even now that this doesn't make any sense.
      • How about as you make your call, they transmit subliminal advertising into you brain in the background? HOW ABOUT THAT? Secretly implant it into your mind WHILE YOU TALK?
      • I do remember those. One such service called Freeway was great. Listen to an ad for 15 seconds, you got a minute free. I'd listen to 10 ads (a little over 2 minutes) then talk for free for 10. At first, there was a good variety of ads, and I actually purchased some goods and services based off of them. Towards the end though right before they shut down, the ads were always the same and none of them were anywhere near relevant to my demographics.

        The only gripe I had was the risk of listening to that man
        • As much as $.10?

          A two minute international call from the UK to the US costs less than that. You can get 2p per minute if you shop around, which is about $0.07. I would have thought long distance within the US would be less than that.
          • Yes. If I listen to that 2 minutes of ads to get the free 10 minutes of long distance, those ads are saving me $.10 to $.20. Cheap long distance is anywhere between $.01 and $.02 per minute. Multiply that by 10 minutes...

            I'm not talking about paying to listen to the ad, that would be flat out crazy. :-)

            Jeremy
          • UK to US? You can get that free - the carriage costs are so low they don't bother charging you any more.

            eg. voipbuster [voipbuster.co.uk] it), sipdiscount [sipdiscount.com], and others.

            Both of the above are IAX compatible so you can plug asterisk into them and automatically route US calls over them.
  • by FluffyWithTeeth ( 890188 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:00PM (#13839369)
    From as far as I can tell, TFA suggests they don't mean free phone calls, but that they're trying to get everyone onto using Skype in the next five years or so.

    And now with advertising in it, yay...

    • Yes, they're going to Skype but from TFA you must have missed this:
      The chairman and chief executive of the world's largest online auction site said the transition to completely free voice communications will not happen in the next year or two, but that could happen in the next three to six years.
      I expect that revenue will be raised by advertising, not through the audio channel, but through banner (or pop-up) ads in the Skype client.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Based on the conversation you are having .. you will hear ads. Don't worry I am sure the interruptions will be polite...

      *ring*

      GF: Hello
      You: Hey baby

      Voice: Sorry to interrupt, did you know that you can buy Hay at a really low price from Bob's farm on route 64?

      You: o..

      Voice: And for your baby, there is a special on Baby food going on right at Joe's Groceryu store ..if you buy in bulk .. I can even dial the number for you now to reserve your case.. note your current call will be interrupted.

      You: I'm not intere
  • Yeah right ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Average_Joe_Sixpack ( 534373 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:00PM (#13839373)
    From the company that perfected "nickle and diming."
    • ... so why don't the telcos reverse the scenario:
      "In a few short years, users can expect to auction stuff online for free, with no listing or selling charges, as part of a package of services through which carriers make money on phone calls. eBay's chief executive called it unfair competition."
      Seems to me the carriers already have the customer base, the billing infrastructure, etc. They could kill ebay in a month.
      • They could kill ebay in a month.

        If they joined together and presented one alternative marketplace with complete vender support they might BARELY have a chance at toppling eBay. Look at Yahoo! Auctions. Look at the other competitors. The only ones doing okay are those that are in niche markets like guns (items that eBay does not allow to be listed).

        Toppling eBay is not a technological issue -- it's mindshare/brand issue. It's not going to happen any time soon in my opinion which is a real shame.
        • There're auction sites selling guns?!
        • Agred - Toppling eBay is NOT a technological issue.

          So here's why the telcos can kill off eBay.

          Advantages for the local telco:

          1. The telco already has the customer penetration - easily +90% in most markets. eBay can't match that in ANY market.
          2. The telco already has a billing process in place - they won't need a "pay it with paypal"
          3. Local customers means that a lot of times people won't have to worry about shipping. They'll pick it up, or the vendor can drop it off. Other times, a local courrier company ca
  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:00PM (#13839377) Homepage Journal
    I pay a nickle a minute for a Wal-Mart-branded major-carrier long distance card.

    It still gives me an ad I can't bypass after I enter the number.

    At 5 cents a minute it should be ad-free.
  • Free..... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by 8127972 ( 73495 )
    .... As in beer?
  • As long as... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:02PM (#13839398) Journal

    ...the FBI has to watch/hear the same advertising that I have to suffer through because of the FCC mandated CALEA IP-taps!

    Sorry, I'm cranky today.

  • Our telephone company does this already! Even if you are on the DNCL, you will get telemarketing calls from their "partners."

    We had our number ported to Vonage and solicitations stopped immediately.
    • I can second this. I had my SBC phone number ported to Vonage, and not only stopped getting calls from unknown numbers, but I save $40/mo (or more if I call LD).
    • My girlfriend's family in Texas was on one of the baby Bells (I forget which, probably BellSouth or SBC) and they switched to Time Warner digital phone service, with the free long distance. They probably got less ads from the partners, but not from the company itself, no sirree! It started dialing them every half hour with COMPLETELY AUTOMATED "come back" messages that they could only stop by redialing the company and waiting half an hour on hold!

      Monopoly agreements with cable and telephone companies such
  • Looks like eBay is hurting... and it's not just because of the Skype purchase.

    From the article:
    "EBay said it had 168.1 registered users for its online auctions as of the end of September."
  • Say that you want to make a call to eastern europe..your looking at paying 20c/min. a 20 min call will cost you 4$. I think that i would rather save my $4, and listen to a 30 second spot for pepsi. We do it on TV AND we pay for cable service. Why not get free voip, and listen to 30 second add for any long distance call.
    The more the call would cost...the longer or more ads they can run. So when u wana call africa, u might listen to 2 min ad, but better then paying 30$ for a call.
    • Until it's made illegal, like Kazaa, which Skype is nominally based on, it's free, peer to peer. You pay the Internet connectivity usage costs, and whatever dirtbag computer you're got connected to it.

      I won't listen to advertising, or watch it either on a VoIP call. I'll just find another source. Anyone with a PC making 20c/min calls to anywhere needs to dig just a little bit and find a wealth of absolutely free (as in beer) VoIP techniques. If you want to join an Enum/SIP-based network, free ones are formi
  • Great... (Score:4, Funny)

    by TomServo_1 ( 187918 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:08PM (#13839457) Homepage
    1. I call someone... while it's connecting me I have to wait 60 seconds to listen to an ad...

    2. Other person picks up the phone... they have to listen to a 60 second ad just to talk to me.

    3. Oops, it's a wrong number. So I have to go back to step one and waste another 60 seconds.

    4. ???

    5. Profit!
  • wow, free telephone service and all we haveto do is have ads! what will they think of next? How about a TV service like HBO, but free! with commercial interruption to support it!

    or maybe it'lll work like AdSense, and whatever your talking about on the telephone will be interrupted with "directed advertising" delivering only advertisments relating to your conversation!

  • I could understand the "free phone calls" idea. We have text chatting for free, and it's not hard to imagine that voice stuff will become more common there. As far as I can think, the only reason people get away with charging for VoIP is that it needs to transition, at some point, to the normal voice network to get phone calls to people with normal phones. If we're all VoIP, then I don't see how it's any different from other internet transmissions.

    What I don't see, however, is the "supported by advertis

  • by arkham6 ( 24514 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:14PM (#13839521)
    me: So greg, my friends and i were going over to the bar ...

    *BEEEP* you said bar, you may want to check out Punters pub, tonight we have free chicken wings! *BEEEP*

    me: urrg. Sorry about that, so we were going to that....place and were drinking some beer...

    *BEEEEP* You said beer. Have you tasted the cool, clean refreshing taste of budweister today? *BEEEEP*

    me: ....FUCKING THING!

    *BEEP* YOu said fuck, have you called 1-900-hot-chix today, for the best in....

  • by Arpie ( 414285 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:15PM (#13839523) Homepage
    Really just plain ads?

    Or will they take advantage of the new mandatory wiretapping laws [wired.com], and have automated systems that scan your conversation for keywords [podscope.com] and give you related ads?

    Sort of like Google adsense, but with voice content...

    I for one do not welcome our new phone tapping overlords...
  • rather than talk about how eBay itself should provide ad-supported auction service, why is it suggesting other telecomm companies to provide ad-supported services?

    and as a company whose customer service over the phone is practically non-existent, phone charge should be least of their concerns.
  • eBay and phones? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by krunoce ( 906444 )
    Is it just me or is this like Microsoft going into the car business?
  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:16PM (#13839534)
    why it's impossible to contact either eBay or PayPal customer support via the telephone.

    Now I know. The cheap bastards are waiting for free phone service.

  • FTA: "What I mean by that is: the largest number of registered users, the largest number of voice minutes, the largest number of developers who develop the platform, the best product ... that users are willing and want to pay for." (emphasis mine)

    Yes, the 'winner' will be the company with the best product and the highest market share. Nothing about how this justifies purchasing Skype (other than the number of active customers they have now)... which was the point of the release, since eBay has taken so
  • What will happen to all those poor retired NFL quarterbacks? They'll have no more commercials to do.
  • Fromt TFA:
    EBay said it had 168.1 registered users for its online auctions as of the end of September.
    Ooh, that smarts.
  • Ebay wants free phone calls? Well I want a solid gold toilet, but we're both going to be disapointed, eh?
  • by Caspian ( 99221 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:21PM (#13839582)
    "So I was at work, right? And in comes this customer and.... **We interrupt this call to bring you this exciting informational bulletin! Is your toilet getting messy? Try new ShitWipers, new from S. C. Johnson Wax! For a 5-minute instructional tutorial on how to use your new ShitWipers...press...one! To speak to a representative about new ShitWipers...press...two. To learn about our exciting Web site at ShitWipers dot com...press...three. To hear why ShitWipers are superior to competing toilet wipe products...press...four. To resume your phone call, dial...pound...three...five...seven...one. This message will repeat in 5 seconds. **

    >FIVE<

    I'm sorry, but you didn't respond quickly enough. This message will now repeat.

    We interrupt this call to bring you this exciting informational bulletin! Is your toilet getting messy? Try new ShitWipers, new from...


    >FIVE<

    I'm sorry, you cannot press buttons until this announcement has completed.

    We interrupt this call to bring you this exciting informational..."
  • by Ssolstice ( 198935 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:26PM (#13839640)
    I'd rather pay for a service that is free from advertisements than get a free service that I can't use when I want to. Most of those "free services" require you to sit through ads before you can use them, such as many website video streams. My time is not free.
  • Ha! I can't wait for this! I'll be talking to my mom on the phone, only to have another incoming call, indicated by the usual beep. However, this time, it isn't a person; it's an ad for penis enlargement.
  • by Errandboy of Doom ( 917941 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @05:42PM (#13839788) Homepage
    Awesome for geeks anyway... we'll all just use adblockers or alternative, open-source brows... er phones.
  • I haven't had a landline service for 3 years but I recall my bill:

    $122: total
    -7: Caller ID
    -4: Touch tone
    -9: Voice Mail
    -4: 3 Way Calling
    -8: Unlimited *69
    -11: Help The Needy Tax
    -9: City Tax
    -8: State Tax
    -3: Telegraph Tax
    -4: Freedom Tax
    -3: Voluntary Anti-terrorism Tax
    -2: White Pages Listing
    -50: DSL
    ====
    $0 - Free phone service (unlimited calls)!
  • My phone calls don't involve transactions and I sure as hell don't want ads. Other than that, it sounds like a great plan. </sarcasm>

    What are they thinking? Not everything can, or should, be free. And if they're trying to say that phone calls will be free as part of a non-free package, then they aren't exactly free, are they? By that logic, I can make unlimited local calls free already--as part of a package that includes call waiting, caller ID, etc.
  • I'll trust eBay with my phone...when pigs fly! They can't program an HTML editor, much less something like Skype.

    "Thank you for reaching 911, please hold while you listen to an ad for one of our sponsors."

    "You cannot make this call because either your feedback has dropped to -1, or your PayPal balance has been frozen. Please try again later after you've built up more positive feedback, or fax us your drivers license."

    "How would you rate your conversation?
    Positive, Negative, or Neutral?"

    eBay, and PayPal r
  • Free ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jeriqo ( 530691 ) <<jeriqo> <at> <unisson.org>> on Thursday October 20, 2005 @07:56PM (#13840808)
    Do they mean free international phone calls ?
    I already can call by phone for free in my country.
  • Whitman said Skype's explosive success, would -- over the next several years -- drive the cost of phone calls to nothing.

    "Our belief is that the winner in this space will be those that have the largest ecosystem.

    We lose money on every sale, and make it up in volume!

  • by nanojath ( 265940 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @10:08PM (#13841587) Homepage Journal
    Presuming eBay plans to be as free with information about my telephone habits as they are with information from my auction account [slashdot.org], I think I'll stick with my phone bill, thanks.

    On a more general note, though I'm sure this is subject to change, right now my phone bill is the least of my worries, frankly. The land line is a bargain considering what it does for me every day, and it just plain works... I've lost my power, my internet, my cable for periods of time, but I've been living in my town for over a decade and not once has my phone gone out for even a minute in all that time. Figure out a way to deliver heat through the internet - that's the bill I'm worried about this winter.
  • when @Home spent some $900 million on Blue Mountain Greeting Cards. @Home went belly-up for that plus a number of other reasons ... but blowing almost a billion on an electronic greeting card company wasn't too smart. They could have used that money to stay in business, rather than making me give up my 4 mbit/sec symmetric @Home connection for AT&T Broadband's wimpy-assed 1.5/256, followed by Comcast's 3.0/384. So now here's E-Bay betting a truckload of green that they can make money from "free" phone c
  • Subject (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @03:31AM (#13842726) Homepage
    "carriers make money on advertising or transaction fees"

    This is kind of vague, and the article goes into zero detail.

    So per-minute charges will disappear, but I'll have to pay everytime I connect to someone else's phone? That's what that says to me.

    As for advertising, I'd rather just keep taking it in the ass each month from Qworst than listen to one second of some asshole telling me how his company makes the world better by selling me shit I don't want.
    • So per-minute charges will disappear, but I'll have to pay everytime I connect to someone else's phone? That's what that says to me.

      As long as it applies to everyone, including those who are somehow exempt from the glorious do-not-call list, it works for me.

      I'm sure it won't work out that nicely, though.
  • Some years ago when politicians discovered that Internet users where swapping emails without paying postage, some people discussed the idea that in the future email senders should have to pay something. But information wants to be free, and the Internet Protocol now allows users to make inexpensive phone calls across the planet. Not only politicians failed to tax email, but the power of the Internet bitten back and made phone free too. Information is by its very nature unstoppable, so politicians and busine

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