If you hear a joyous chorus of voices this week, it may not just be from holiday carolers.
In a deal that could save parents countless dollars in phone bills each month, Alloy Online will announce tomorrow that it is introducing voice chat on its teen-focused Web site.
Alloy will use software from Lipstream, whose technology enables voice chat applications for e-commerce, customer service, education, entertainment and community applications, the company said today. Lipstream's technology is also used by community Web site Excite.
The announcement comes as major online media companies are recognizing voice-enabled chat as a potentially "sticky" application, one that encourages users to spend more time at a Web site.
Earlier this month, MTV said it would use voice chat company HearMe.com's technology to allow users to perform Karaoke online. And last month, America Online released a version of its popular AOL Instant Messenger that included voice chat capabilities.
Alloy said that its decision to offer voice chat through its Web site was based on a study by Cheskin Research, which said the No. 1 thing teens want from the Web is social interaction, and the No 1. device desired is Internet telephony.
"Live voice-based interaction is an ideal fit for Alloy.com, as it provides a new way for our community to interact online," Matt Diamond, Alloy's chief executive, said in a statement. "Gen Y is Net-savvy and ready for live voice on the Internet. Lipstream's service has hit the market at just the right time."
Alloy recently relaunched its Web site, hoping to attract more teens by using a greater focus on multimedia content.
Along with voice chat, Alloy's Web site offers MP3 and video downloads, Net radio broadcasts, celebrity chats, shopping, free email accounts and online gaming.