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Thursday, 13 May 2010 22:44

Skype is everywhere - except Windows Phone


While point to point video calls aren't new to Skype users, the ability to make multi-point calls is new but will only be delivered as a fee based service. This was announced today as part of an expanded set of services for business users. But the big news is that Windows Phone is not on the roadmap.

Skype's plan, to establish itself as THE software platform for a communications will span a number of mobile device platforms with iPhone, Symbian, BlackBerry and Android was part of the roadmap announced today. And if you think we've made an error and missed someone - Windows Phone is not part of the plan Skype discussed today by the company's Asia Pacific vice president Dan Neary. After some prodding, Neary did say that Windows Phone wasn't completely off their radar but there was no commitment to a timeframe when that platform will be supported. This is a significant blow to the installed base of users with Windows-based handsets. 

However, Skype's push for mindshare will be aided by being preloaded on 70% of new computers. Rather than having to download the software all users will need to do is either enter their user credentials or create a new Skype account.

Despite the ubiquity of Windows Live Messenger and other Instant Messaging clients, Skype sees IM as a significant opportunity. IM's importance as a business app is increasing and Skype wants users to see them as the provider of choice. Research presented by Skype found that 84% of employers have some employees that work remotely  and Gartner says that 46.6 million corporate employees will spend at least one day per week working outside the office. For Skype, this is a huge opportunity that they're looking to exploit.

For business users, the ability to manage Skype within the enterprise architecture is key. Skype Manager (www.skype.com/skypemanager) has been given a facelift with IT mangers given lots of control over their users. upgraded. Skype Manager allows managers to centralise account creation, allocate of call credits with balances shown to users in their local currency (a great boon for internationally distributed businesses) and the ability to assign features to surfs. For example, the administrator can limit access to file sharing to manage security, voicemail and call forwarding. As you'd expect usage monitoring is part of the admin toolkit. 

Skype's push onto mobile devices offers them an opportunity, globally, that they belive might be worth as much as $70 billion. Although the software might be free the ability for users to avoid carrier charges and use 3G and other networks for making calls givens them a significant opportunity.

Skype estimates that their software is installed onto 15% of all iPhones and iPod touches. With their plan to hit Symbian, BlackBerry and Android they expect to exert further influence on the market and put more pressure on carriers. Partnerships with OEMs like Nokia with Nokia N900 are about improving integration through access to address books and other core applications.

While carriers were initially threatened by Skype, they seem to be embracing them more and more. In particular challenger brands such as Vodafone and Three are seeing significant customer growth by offering Skype as part of their service. For example VHA offered free Skype to Skype calls on their network. This delivered a 44% increase in new subscriptions to the carrier for the month. The availability of Skype has been found by carriers to influence 75% of customers in choosing a carrier and 66% with handset selection.

One of the services many customers having been waiting for is ability to use 3G to make Skype calls. Skype's representative wouldn't commit to a firm date but did say it was expected "soon". An iPad native version is also coming soon although the iPhone version does work - it just looks ugly when scaled up to the larger display. Support for the upcoming iphone OS 4.0 is being worked on "aggressively" although no commitment is being made on availability at the same time as OS 4.0.


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