Skype’s mobile dreams

by admin January 10, 2008 at 3:25 pm

Internet-calling software provider Skype sees the mobile market as the next frontier for its service, but economic realities in the voice market–coupled with mobile operators who feel threatened by Skype–could put the kibosh on large-scale adoption for some time to come.

Skype, a peer-to-peer software application that allows people to make free phone calls to other Skype users over the Internet, has become an easy and inexpensive way for people all over the world to stay in touch.

In addition to allowing voice calling and instant messaging to other registered Skype users, the service offers premium services, such as Skypeout, which allows cheap calls from Skype to landlines or mobile phones worldwide. Another paid service, Skypeln, provides a personal and portable number that people can use to accept calls anywhere in the world.

Now the company is focusing its efforts on the mobile market.

“Our users aren’t always at a computer,” said Tony Saigh, business development manager for mobile at Skype. “But 96 percent of the time people have their cell phones within 1 meter of them, so it makes sense for us to extend our application to users on mobile devices. I think it also opens the market up for us to people who want the freedom of using Skype but don’t want to be tied to a computer.”

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Skype made several mobile-service announcements, including one touting its plans to work with chipmaker Intel to put Skype software on Intel-powered mobile Internet devices, or MIDs, and on portable PC-like devices that use Intel’s low-power processors. Skype also said that it will work with Sony to put its software on the PSP 2000 portable gaming device. And it announced a software upgrade for the Sony Mylo personal communicator, a small, portable, PC-like handheld device.

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