Saturday, April 4, 2009

Skype Comes to the iPhone, Voice and Text Chat App

By now you may have heard the big news eariler this week that Skype released Skype for iPhone which is an iPhone app that enables you to make free Skype-to-Skype calls from any WiFi zone. You can sign in to Skype via 3G, WiFi, GPRS or Edge and see who is online but calls only work on WiFi. iPod Touch equipped with a microphone can also take advantage of the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calling.

You can make free Skype-to-Skype calls and low cost calls to landlines and mobile phones – and participate in conference calls – from any WiFi zone. You can also IM all you want, and participate in group chats too, whenever you have network connectivity, whether it's WiFi, 3G, EDGE or GPRS.

The next version of iPhone 3.0 supports calls over 3G as this video demonstrates. Om Malik has been covering Skype on his blog for some time and his review of Skype for iPhone: Awesome. While there are a few issues that many say will be worked out in 3.0, Om says, "For those of you that use Skype on a daily basis and own an iPhone, this could very quickly become the simplest way to make long-distance calls. And I’m predicting a big upsurge in Skype as an “IM client” with this release. To Skype developers who worked on this product, I have two words: Great work!" Read Om's full post here as well as Phil Glockner's post Skype for iPhone: It's Real and It's Spectacular - ReadWriteWeb.

In less than two days after its release, Skype for iPhone was downloaded more than one million times – around six downloads every second. I downloaded the app on my iPhone and and easily logged into one of my Skype accounts and was making a VoIP call through my WiFi connection in minutes. All my contacts downloaded and I was able to see their status just I could on the Skype desktop client. I was able to text chat as well (without those fun emoticons) and the only thing really missing was video, which is not supported on the iPhone as of yet. The audio quality was very clear and while the latency of text chat was not real-time it was low.

Kurt Thywissen, lead engineer on the Skype for iPhone project, explains how the application works in this video.

Skype is clearly the most mainstream video and VoIP application doing well financially generating $551 million in revenue last year reporting a profit each quarter for the past two years. Skype averages 350,000 new users a day making it the fastest growing internet company after just five year. Bernard Lunn noted on ReadWriteWeb that Skype May Be The Biggest Winner From The Web 2.0 Era and highlighted 10 reasons he says that Skype has a shot at becoming the largest player in what is now a $2 trillion market.

Goin' mobile, Keep me moving

On the Skype Blog Scott Durchslag outlined how Skype is "mobilizing" with a complete range of rich Skype software for mobile devices powered by every single one of the world’s six major mobile operating systems – Android, BlackBerry, iPhone OS, Java, Symbian and Windows Mobile.

Some of their mobile range includes:
You can read the full post here.

Skype rival JaJah had recently done this with the iPod touch turning it into an iPhone over WiFi with their white-label solution and many have recoginsed Nimbuzz as another VoIP alternative with their own iPhone app. Nimbuzz combines instant messaging, (geo) presence, and VoIP across popular communities across popular communities, including Skype, Windows Live Messenger (MSN), Yahoo! Messenger, ICQ, GoogleTalk, AIM, and social networks including Facebook and MySpace. The free application is available on the mobile, PC and web, for instant messaging, location.

Regarding Skype's valuation Olga Kharif of BusinessWeek asked as the Internet phone service makes its iPhone debut, can mobile phones add enough value to fatten up eBay's lackluster division for sale? She said, "Wireless versions of Skype are only one facet of unit President Josh Silverman's plan to spur growth. The company plans eventually to launch its service everywhere users may log on to the Internet, including phones, televisions, cars, and their work PCs, says Chief Operating Officer Scott Durchslag, "I see [Skype] as a Ferrari that's only firing some of its cylinders."

Update: 4/5/09