After a long wait, Apple iPhone and iPod touch owners are finally able to download the much-requested Skype application onto their mobiles. Although other third-party developers offer Skype clients, this is the first Skype-powered application for either device. The application is free to download from Apple’s online App Store.
Company CEO Scott Durchslag said Skype software for the iPhone has been the No. 1 request among their users. “We are delighted to deliver on this request and put Skype into the pockets of millions of people around the world who are carrying iPhone and iPod touch devices,” he said. “Skype for iPhone will open up new ways for more than 400 million Skype users to stay connected and take their Skype conversations with them.”
Durchslag characterized the convergence of technologies as a marriage of Skype’s “simplicity, ease-of-use and quality” and Apple’s “elegance of design and richness.” Skype’s voice over IP (VOIP) technology allows users to make phone calls over the Web. The application allows users to make free Skype-to-Skype calls from any Wi-Fi zone to other Skype users worldwide, as well as make calls to landlines and mobile phone at low rates.
The app uses Wi-Fi, 3G, GPRS or EDGE (whichever is available) to sign into Skype, update a contact list, maintain and update presence and also send and receive instant messages. Skype, which was snapped up by the online auction firm eBay for $2.6 billion in 2005, also made note of the application’s capacity for personalization, pointing out users can update their Skype profile picture from within the Skype for iPhone app, either by choosing an existing image from a photo album on the device, or by using the iPhone’s built-in camera to take a new photo.
Skype is also enabled on several of the iPhone’s competitors’ platforms, including Google’s Android mobile platform and more than 100 Java-enabled mobile phones. In December, Skype announced beta clients for Windows Mobile-enabled devices, Skype Lite. Skype’s plan to announce an application for the iPhone became the worst kept secret in the tech world after the blog GigaOM quoted a “very reliable” tipster as saying the application would debut quite soon.
In the week leading up to the CTIA Wireless conference in Las Vegas, which starts Wednesday, Skype made another announcement signaling the company’s interest in capturing a larger share of the business market. 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.
On Tuesday afternoon, the company will hold a press conference at CTIA in order to ” share more about its vision and strategy for gaining deeper penetration into the mobile sector” and says it will make several announcements that mark “concrete steps” towards that goal.