The tech blogosphere is buzzing with the news that an official Skype application for Apple’s iPhone will be made available tomorrow. But, as the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones rightly asks, is it such a big deal?
Firstly, it isn’t the first time Skype on iPhone (or iPod touch) has been possible, with a number of third-party apps already filling the void.
Secondly, while Skype calling is available to mobiles and landlines not just other devices running Skype, they’re only possible over WiFi not 3G, so as to appease Apple’s carrier partners.
And thirdly, it’s not possible to purchase SkypeOut credit from within the iPhone’s Skype app itself, and even though Cellan-Jones suggests that this feature is a perfect candidate for the upcoming ‘In App’ purchasing that Apple recently announced, he forgot to mention that Apple would then take a cut of Skype’s revenue as all billing is to be done through a iPhone user’s existing iTunes account.
That’s the Skype on iPhone specific caveats out of the way, but we should also mention that Skype functionality has existed on many other smartphone platforms for quite some time, such as S60, along with at least one official partnership, the Skype phone (and now the INQ1 — see review) available on carrier “3”. In addition, Nokia recently announced a tie-up with Skype that will see the Voice-over-IP service integrated into future handsets.
Taking all of the above into account, Skype on iPhone doesn’t seem such a big deal in and of itself. That said, Skype is already the largest provider of cross-border voice communications, according to a recent report, so perhaps the increasing ubiquity of Skype — PCs, cell phones and other mobile devices — is.