So Yahoo! is finally going to roll out Skype-like PC-to-phone and phone-to-PC services for its messenger product. This will likely be the first credible challenge to Skype's soft-phone dominance, from a company that (in my opinion) would have been a better home for Skype than eBay.
What this means:
In three months, we will know whether Skype's brand, first-mover advantage, and user base will allow it to do what eBay, Google, and others have done before it: swat away much larger competitors like flies. In three months, if Yahoo! has not grabbed a significant chunk of this business, we will have a good indication of whether it will EVER grab a significant chunk of it--or whether, in the interest of saving a few (hundred billion) pennies, Yahoo!, MSN, Google, et al already passed on the one opportunity that would have vaulted them to the top of the PC-to-phone charts.
If there is one pattern we've seen over and over again since the dawn of Internet time, it is that the first big brand to capture hearts and minds in a given space has a major competitive advantage, regardless of who its competitors are and regardless of what they do. This doesn't mean the first mover won't blow it--Netscape, Yahoo! in search, AOL in access, Napster in music all blew it--but it does suggest that it's their game to lose.