Skype to Debut Apps for Apple iPhone, BlackBerry
Internet phone company Skype announced the availability of its Voice
over IP telephony service for Apple's iPhone and the BlackBerry, a
smartphone manufactured by Research in Motion, Reuters reports.
The application, which is available on Tuesday for the iPhone and Wi-Fi
enabled iPod touch and comes to BlackBerry devices in May.
With more than 450 million registered users, Skype has long been an in-demand mobile application. Clients from third-party developers such as Truphone and Nimbuzz allow Skype functionality on the iPhone, and Nimbuzz also made Skype available to BlackBerry users, but this is the first Skype-powered application for either device.
In December, Skype announced beta clients for Windows Mobile-enabled devices, Skype Lite. As of January 2009, Skype was available for Google's Android mobile platform and more than 100 Java-enabled mobile phones. The company's CEO, Scott Durchslag, told Reuters the No. 1 request Skype gets from customers is to make the service available on the iPhone. "There's a pent-up demand," he told Reuters. The company will officially announce the application's availability on Tuesday at the CTIA Wireless convention in Las Vegas.
The Reuters article comes on the heels of a rumor that spun through the Internet Friday morning after a post on the technology blog GigaOM revealed that a "very reliable" tipster said the Skype iPhone application would come to market soon, perhaps as early as this week. Durchslag said the application, which will be free to download and allow free calls from one Skype account to the other (as it is with the desktop application) might one day support video.
"If we do it we will have to do it incredibly well," he told Reuters. "I'm firmly convinced that if Skype could find a way to bridge all those cellphone cameras and laptop cameras it might kick start a video telephony opportunity," he said. With many working professionals and small business owners looking to reduce costs in a down economy, the Skype application-video capability or not-seems well poised to increase in popularity, especially in the United States, where its adoption has been slower than in European countries.
Skype has shown others signs that it is going after the business market with more gusto than in previous years, largely at the behest of its parent company, eBay. Last week, Skype released a beta version of Skype for SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), which allows peer-to-peer VOIP clients to interact with existing IP PBXs. The wide release of the service is scheduled for later this year.
IDC's research analyst for enterprise mobility and IP communications services, Rebecca Swensen, says businesses have been waiting for Skype to make a concerted push into the business space for a while. "Connecting to existing standards-based SIP PBXes is a good way for Skype to start doing so," she said. "It will be interesting to see how large companies change their thinking about the deployment of Skype within the network."