Skype: Most Phone Users Don't Use Apps

The VoIP company is urging mobile phone operators to give more control to end users and let them install whatever apps they want.

Marin Perez

March 18, 2009

2 Min Read
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While mobile apps have been making headlines lately because of the success of the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch, Apple represents less than 2% of the entire mobile phone market. A new report from Skype said the vast majority of customers haven't downloaded any application for their cell phones.

The eBay-owned company commissioned Zogby International to conduct a survey of 3,000 mobile phone users in multiple countries. The survey showed that 67% said they don't have as much control of their phone as they do their computer, and 70% have never downloaded a mobile program.

Skype said the carriers carry some of the blame, as these numbers changed dramatically when users were given more freedom over what they could do with their handsets. It pointed to survey results from Spain, where the mobile operators are less restrictive than some of their peers. A significantly higher percentage of users in Spain saw their mobile devices as an extension of their computers and more customers downloaded and used apps.

"This is a clear signal to everyone in the communications industry -- mobile networks, device manufacturers, and software companies like Skype -- to work together to deliver what mobile users like you want: the freedom to install what you want, where you want it," wrote Scott Durchslag, on Skype's blog.

The company is looking to expand its voice-over-IP presence beyond the desktop, and it's making strides in the mobile arena. Skype recently partnered with Nokia to have software pre-loaded on certain smartphones, and it has multiple apps for Android and Java-based devices.

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are making moves to have more open networks, but the carriers would argue that there is a need for some level of control in order to guarantee a good user experience. There are also business reasons to not allow things like Skype on cell phones, as the software could potentially eat into voice revenue.

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).

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