Despite being owned by Microsoft, the company’s mobile Windows Phone operating system still doesn’t have an application by voice over IP (VOIP) provider Skype, but that will change soon, Microsoft’s Skype division Vice President Rick Osterloh promised in an interview during last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Some analysts are predicting the announcement could be made sometime during the Mobile World Congress convention in Barcelona, Spain, at the end of February.
According to a report on the IT blog The Verge, Osterloh said the company is “working on a Windows Phone product that will be coming out soon,” without disclosing an official release date. Microsoft was originally scheduled to deliver a Skype application in 2011. However, it seems likely the debut will coincide with the release of the Windows Phone “Apollo” operating system expected this year.
Skype applications are currently available for handsets running Google’s Android operating system and on Apple’s iPhone devices. Microsoft completed its acquisition of Skype in October 2011, paying $8.5 billion for the company. According to a 2010 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, the combination of Skype, Google and Apple has lifted the number of American adults participating in online video calls to nearly 20 percent.
Windows Phone is struggling for adoption in the face of significant competition from Google Android and Apple’s iPhone. Despite positive reviews from critics, Microsoft partners Samsung and HTC just aren’t selling many Windows Phone handsets. In November, IT research firm Gartner reported Windows Phone market share slid to 1.5 percent from the 2.7 percent share it secured a year earlier. Even more worrying for Microsoft, it fell behind Samsung’s Bada operating system, which captured 2.2 percent of the market in the third quarter.
Skype, which has over 600 million registered accounts, compared with 160 million active users, is also due to be blended with Microsoft Lync, Office 365 and Xbox Live. Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of U.S. adult Web users, or 19 percent of all American adults, have made calls online using Skype, Vonage or some other VOIP service, according to a 2011 report from Pew Internet.
Founded in 2003, Skype was acquired by eBay in September 2005 and then acquired by an investment group led by Silver Lake in November 2009.