Chris Kranky

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Skype: The hit of the CTIA show

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

At this hour, Google is reporting there over 344 news articles announcing that "tommorow Skype will announce their software client for Apple's iPhone". Wow! I'll try and be calm. Even better. Skype's says in the coming months they will introduce additional clients for Blackberry and others as well. I can barely contain my excitement.

PCWorld's article is replent with all sorts of photos of the "new" client, colorful and all made up for show day. Tomorrow is going to be big. I use Skype a lot. Why? Because I can call for free and the quality is 10x better than the crappy PSTN. Skype hits the key marketing axioms about being better for less. I love it. Skype = great free voice. Fantastic!

Unfortunately, hidden in the fine print is the fact that the Skype client for iPhone can't make phone calls. Well at least not on AT&T's mobile network. You can use the Skype voice client only when "connected to a WiFi" network. Every iPhone zealout has done a demo, turning on their WiFi, demo'ing whatever cool app they want to show to me. But quickly shutting off WiFi. Why? Because it sucks the battery down.

So exactly what good is the Skype client on a mobile device then? Beats me. I clearly don't need yet another instant messaging (IM) client. So like so many things, this is interesting, yet the Skype announcement fails to have any meaningful impact.

Skype has done a great job in the UK working with Hutchinson 3G UK, whereby you can call your Skype pals from your mobile. 3G's plans typically give you a huge bucket (3,000 minutes) separately for Skype pal calling. This 3G client doesn't use VoIP (at least on the wireless side), but Hutchinson has installed a Skype gateway which allows you to 'dial up' your Skype contacts anywhere in the world and talk away. Great idea.

This announcement, though, does put pressure on the mobile operator to play along and I wouldn't be surprised to see T-Mobile USA do a break away and play along with a full Skype gateway offering.