Last month, Verizon Wireless and Skype joined forces to create a global mobile calling community, which will bring Skype to select Verizon Wireless smartphones this month. The new Skype mobile product enhances Verizon smartphones for users who have data plans by offering a new way to call around the globe, while also giving hundreds of millions of Skype users the opportunity to communicate with friends, family and business colleagues in the United States. For a video of how Skype mobile works, click here.
At first, this partnership may seem counter-intuitive—a wireless company teaming up with a free service provider to offer cheap ways for consumers to communicate. And with a much easier and cheaper way for Verizon subscribers to make VoIP calls, some are curious about whether this partnership will eat up the company’s income from international calls.
I happen to think this is a smart move on Verizon’s part. For one, Skype is already responsible for 8% of global international calling minutes—with its users making 3.1 billion minutes of calls to landlines and mobiles in the third quarter of 2009. Additionally, though calls will be cheaper, you’ll still need to purchase a Verizon data plan and international calls won’t be free.
Furthermore, this partnership represents a change in sentiment for mobile operators. Not only are they beginning to embrace VoIP technologies, but they also realize that the ability for consumers to communicate is no longer the only reason for owning a phone. With all the available software and applications that consumers can download, mobile phones have become more like a personal computer these days, with more options for operators to make money than just calling plans.
However, as an iPhone user, I wonder how this exclusive partnership will affect Skype. Now that the company won’t be able to make another application for the iPhone, will other VoIP providers try to partner with Apple?
For those Verizon customers out there, will you be getting Skype mobile?
– Contributed by Chantal LeBoulch. Follow her @cleboulch