Voice was not really the issue with another big announcement at MWC in Barcelona: that Skype was to work with Verizon to provide mobile services. It's mostly about the video. By Ian Scales.
"Skype is really not a threat to carriers - we can work in partnership," says Skype's Russ Shaw in an interview about the Verizon deal with Telecom TV's Guy Daniels at the show (see below). And Shaw is right. Carriers have pretty-much got themselves beyond the old revenue-robbing worries over VoIP.
Shaw tells Guy that Skype has done a partnership deal with Verizon which will see Skype on Blackberry and Android handsets first at Verizon, with all the other smartphone platforms to follow. There will be Skype-to-Skype calling, not of course 'Skype-out' charged calls to switched phones.
And the deal is not unique. Other carriers are in the offing, he says, just keep watching this space.
As with the VoLGA/VoLTE squabble, this is not a voice thing. The strategy here for both sides is not to parcel out the voice market, it's to build the video communications applications of tomorrow. Video calling is the big draw here for Verizon, Shaw hints in our Barcelona interview.
According to Shaw, 12 per cent of the international calls made are on Skype and a third of those are already on video.
So Skype has a base of users, some of whom will be prepared (often or just on occasion) to make video calls on their mobiles to join in the Skype fun. And once the carriers have the necessary technology in place they expect to be able to monetise on this - at the very least Skype video will drive data revenues.
So the prize for the carriers who might get into bed with Skype is not around voice calling but to kick-start video calling as a mobile phone/tablet application (it's always been a bit of a holy grail to establish any sort of videophone or video calling service)
The big card held by Skype is that it appears to have solved the 'who does the first user talk to?' problem by building a thriving cross-terminal user base for video communications. In addition to mobile video, Skype is now in the process of adding video communications on the family TV to its established desktop video service through deals with consumer electronics giants like Panasonic. That large and growing (and enthusiastic) base of video conference users provides the context for the use of the mobile as another video conference terminal (albeit one, I would have thought, of last resort).
Again - it's not the voice, it's the applications just behind it that are important.
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