Skype's popular voice-over-IP calling service soon will be coming to the iPhone and BlackBerry.
The application will enable mobile phone users to make free Skype-to-Skype calls, as well as use the VoIP service to call landlines at rates that are typically lower than what the cellular operators charge. The eBay-owned company said there has been pent-up demand for an iPhone version, so it's expected to be available in the App Store on Tuesday, and the BlackBerry app will be available sometime in May.
The carriers generally have been wary of Skype on cell phones because it has the potential to eat into voice revenue, but Skype said its service actually boosts customers' spending on other services like data plans. Additionally, the iPhone version will only work on Wi-Fi, so users will still have to use AT&T's voice networks for calls on the go.
The iPhone version, which also will work on the iPod Touch with an additional microphone, does not have all the features of the desktop Skype. Video calling is absent, but Skype said it's considering it for future versions. The iPhone Skype app also does not enable sending SMS messages, setting up conference calls, getting Skype voice mails directly on the handset, or transferring files.
Skype did not elaborate on what features the BlackBerry version will have, but it will likely be available in the upcoming BlackBerry App World, and most likely will be limited to handsets with Wi-Fi, such as the Bold and Curve 8900.
This is just the latest move by Skype to extend its presence to the mobile space, and the VoIP service soon will be available on every major platform, including Nokia's S60, Google's Android, Microsoft's Windows Mobile, and hundreds of Java-capable cell phones.
Smartphones and applications like VoIP are low-cost and low-risk technologies that can boost the productivity of a mobile workforce. InformationWeek examined how enterprises can equip their road warriors without breaking the bank, and the report can be downloaded here (registration required).