By guest editor Stephane Delbecque
[Mobile World Congress] We had the opportunity to spend some time with Nicholas Babaian, Product Manager Mobile at Skype to learn more about Skype Mobile products and strategy.
With 400 million web users worldwide, Skype is the definitive leader in VoIP. In order to know more about people’s opinion on the service, they conducted a survey and had the surprise to learn that the #1 request was “make it mobile”. Back to October 07, Skype released the first Skype Phone in the UK with 3, an innovative mobile carrier and got some pretty good success with more than 500,000 phones and 1 million minutes a day. Because data traffic for people with the Skype phone was 20% bigger than an average user, it served as a case study for any mobile carrier aiming at not only acquiring new users but also retaining existing ones.
Strengthened by this success story, Skype decided to build mobile clients for smartphone platforms. The first available application Skype released on a phone was a Windows Mobile client that has been downloaded 11 million times so far. Notably, its user base growing is fast, especially in Asia.
Hand-in-hand with Sony Ericsson, Skype Mobile engineers worked on integrating the Skype features in a native application dedicated to the Xperia devices. With a unique interface using the touch capacities of the device, the Skype for Xperia application illustrates how mobile devices can take advantage of the phone’s UI and still deliver what people are looking for. (cf. picture)
Continuing on the path to investing in the mobile ecosystem, Skype announced earlier this year the launch of Skype on Android and more than 100 Java-based Mobile phones.
At Mobile World Congress, a deep integration of Skype within each and every Nokia Nseries phone to be released in the 3rd quarter of 2009 was announced. As we stated earlier in the previous news, operators may be tempted to block Skype packets in order to avoid people to pass calls without using their network. But interestingly, 70% of Nokia worldwide sales are done through direct channels. For us, it becomes clear that this deal doesn’t even give the opportunity for carriers to have their word. It even tells more about how tough it will be for mobile carriers not to turn into simple “pipes”.