Some Verizon Wireless customers will soon have access to Skype, an Internet telephone service, the companies announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday. Skype, based in Luxembourg, allows people to use the service to make free video and voice calls. Users are also able to send instant messages and other files.
Verizon data customers will be able to make and receive unlimited Skype-to-Skype voice calls, according to the companies. Users will also be able to make international calls using Skype Out, a competitive service.
Only Specific Phones
Of Verizon's 91.2 million customers, only those who have data plans on the BlackBerry Storm 9530, Storm2 9550, Curve 8330, Curve 8530, 8830 World Edition, and Tour 9630 devices, plus users of the Droid by Motorola, Droid Eris by HTC, and the Motorola Devour will have access to Skype, beginning in March.
"Skype mobile on Verizon Wireless changes the game," said John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon.
The deal is about options for the consumer, analysts said. "It allows Verizon customers to use their smartphone to download the Skype application and communicate with other Skype users all over the world," said Richard Murphy, an IDC analyst. "It also allows the Verizon consumer to save money by using Skype to make international calls to non-Skype users at a cheaper rate."
For Verizon, the move means a more competitive approach to gaining customers over rival AT&T. It makes Verizon's smartphones and data plans required for the service more marketable, Murphy added.
Since late last year, Skype has expanded from taking a share of the telecom market from traditional phone providers to making nice with wireless carriers. As of the first quarter 2009, Skype had 42.2 million daily active users.
More to Come
The deal with Verizon isn't the first for Skype. The company committed to a similar deal with AT&T last year, giving AT&T customers access to the service in the U.S. AT&T initially blocked its users from using Skype. In October, however, AT&T allowed Internet calling applications to be used. More Skype relationships are expected.
Skype executives have openly encouraged wireless carriers around the world to change their policies from blocking or discouraging Skype to making Skype part of the offer to mobile customers.
"We are in conversations with carriers around the world with the goal of finding opportunities to enable Skype to deliver a superior mobile experience to consumers," said Russ Shaw, general manager for mobile and EMEA. "As the Verizon Wireless deal indicates, carriers are recognizing the value that a partnership with Skype can bring."
Posted: 2010-02-17 @ 4:01pm PT
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