When I first came to the USA ten years ago (yes, its been ten years), I used to spend more than 50 cents per minute calling India. A fair proportion of my small graduate research assistant salary was spent on international calls. Over the years, the phone call rate to India has progressively gone down (currently I am paying 11 cents for phone calls). Since i was introduced to Skype (which uses P2P technology to offer free internet calling), the cost for much of my international calling has reduced to zero. The sound quality is far superior than for most international phone calls. There is almost no time lag (which makes a huge difference).
Right now, I am in Boston for the Internet and Society conference. From my hotel room, I have already had two international conversations, one with someone in India, another with someone in Brazil. I am also using Skype for communicating with my colleagues back in California (why pay roaming charges on a cell phone, or outrageous hotel phone bills).
Apart from the slight disruption in sleep cycle (with the three hour difference), I can work from my hotel room in Boston, as if I was back at my desk in California. And that’s primarily because of Skype. The sound quality on Yahoo and MSN audio chat just does not measure up. Also, I like Skype’s use of the phone icon for showing active calls, and the sound of the phone ring when someone calls you on Skype. I even like seeing the number of Skype users online (1,002,689 right now).
Yes, there are some usability issues. And the Skype conferencing facility still needs a lot of work. But Skype is living proof of the fact that usefulness can trump everything else. Skype fulfills a real, long-unmet need, and fulfills it better than anything else out there.
If you are still using Yahoo/MSN/AOL for voice chats, then give Skype a try. You will be pleasantly surprised at the difference.