Smartphones

Verizon, Skype will launch Skype Mobile in March

At Mobile World Congress on Tuesday, Skype and Verizon Wireless jointly announced the launch of Skype Mobile, a free app that will run on select Verizon smartphones.

This post originally appeared in the ZDNet blog Between the Lines.

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday, Skype and Verizon Wireless jointly announced the launch of Skype Mobile, a free app that will run on select Verizon smartphones.

The application was co-developed by the Skype and Verizon teams and will launch in "late March" on nine different devices, including (Verizon statement, Skype blog):

  • BlackBerry Curve
  • BlackBerry 8830 World Edition
  • BlackBerry Storm 1
  • BlackBerry Storm 2
  • Motorola Droid
  • HTC Eris
  • Motorola Devour

The application will be a free download. It will run in the background on all of those phones, and Skype stated that they've worked very closely with Verizon to maximize battery life and call quality. All of the Skype calls will go through the data plan and will not count as cellular minutes.

Skype and Verizon also alluded to the fact that there would be some address book integration that will show the Skype presence of your contacts. That hints at deeper integration beyond just the development of a stand-alone app. The software itself was not demonstrated at the press conference.

A few additional statistics that came out in the event:

  • Verizon has 90 million U.S. wireless customers
  • Skype has 500 million users
  • Skype is adding 300K new users per day
  • Verizon stated that Skype calls will not negatively impact their 3G data network. John Stratton, Verizon chief marketing officer, said, "We won't let network quality erode. That's the cornerstone of our brand."

Analysis

This is a strong deal for Skype. They get the best U.S. 3G network and an early jump on access to Verizon's forthcoming 4G network. However, they had to sell a bit of their soul to do it. This app will be exclusive to Verizon and it sounds like Skype won't be making deals with any other carriers for a while. That flies in the face of the Skype everywhere strategy (they even talked about integrating Skype into TVs at CES).

The big question is how exclusive is this exclusive deal? Can Skype continue to develop Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone apps? I suspect they can. However, I doubt they'll be able to work with other carriers on Skype integration, at least for the U.S. networks.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

5 comments
Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Skype has offered a mobile to mobile or mobile to land line app for Symbian (and I believe other mobile devices) here for some time now. I have been using Skype mobile to call the UK and Germany quite a while. It is a free mobile download and offers free Skype to Skype mobile calls which are COMPLETELLY free (less minutes used) when in a Wi-Fi zone or use a data calling plan when using the 3G network. My living room is within a local hotspot, due to a couple of local fast food restaurants that offer free wifi access. So in the evening, I call the UK with no minutes used and no dollars spent. The application isn?t 100% 'VoIP' though, as it still requires a cellular connection to make a call. The Skype application calls a local number, which then connects you to your contact, regardless of where they?re located. It's not perfect yet but getting there.

franharry2
franharry2

Pretty smart move on the part of Verizon! So what happens to calls made on WiFi network? What about Skype-out calls? Will it deplete your Skype credit as well as use your verizon minutes? I wonder where this leaves T-Mobile whose customers have been asking for the same thing for the longest time. I'm afraid it might be a tad too late now or maybe not...

Zegamega
Zegamega

Ideally I could only think of this deal as somewhat stemming from google's app that will be able to allow international calls on the famous 3G network, however google is not only on the iphone but other phones as well, could we see that Verizon exclusiveness will have to be opened in order to stop the competitive nature of google allowing their app (skype) to be on other phones as well? Secondly, google's features (still going through testing) is really a step up from the conventional mobile phones apps not only to mention, skype and google movements are truly changing the way VOIP was once perceived to be. Now the question I would now ask in order for them to truly change the way we interpret VOIP is to have these applications connecting to current VOIP networks as a mean of making calls and having their numbers connect on current voip systems, oh the possibilities that these two would now create if they truly go at it for competitiveness.

flmagman
flmagman

I don't know if this is what you were hinting at, but I have a Windows app that allows me to make international calls through my VOIP account, rather than my wireless one, at a greatly reduced rate. True, it uses wireless minutes for time, but until my minutes are used up, that's free.

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