Nokia and Skype on Tuesday announced a partnership in which the mobile phone maker would offer Skype's Internet-calling service on Nokia N Series phones.
Skype's voice-over-IP service would be integrated into Nokia's N97 flagship phone first. The Skype-enabled device is scheduled for release in the third quarter, the companies said.
The VoIP service would be accessible through the address book of the N97, letting users see when their Skype contacts are online and to send instant messages. People will also be able to use a carrier's 3G data network or a wireless local area network, such as Wi-Fi, to make and receive Skype-to-Skype voice calls, which are offered at no charge, in addition to paid Skype calls to landlines and mobile devices.
"Collaborating closely with Nokia to preload and integrate our software onto their devices will benefit the many Nokia customers who already use Skype, as it makes Skype easily accessible and simple to use on the go," Scott Durchslag, Skype's chief operating officer, said in a statement.
Skype, owned by auction site eBay, claims to have more than 400 million users worldwide. Jose-Luis Martinez, VP of Nokia's Nseries, said the partnership marked a "significant step in bringing converged Internet experiences from the desktop to the world's most advanced mobile computer."
The partnership was unveiled at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. On the same day, Nokia introduced an Nseries phone called the N86, which carries an 8-megapixel camera that's one of the first on a mobile phone to have a mechanical shutter. By increasing the shutter speed up to 1/1,000th of a second, the user can take action photos, such as sporting events, without blurring. The phone is expected on store shelves by the end of the second quarter for $475.
Skype has also been able to cozy up to Sony Ericsson, and said it would be releasing its service on the Xperia X1 smartphone. The VoIP calling service will be coming as a "panel" for the X1's customizable home screen.
Skype is gaining widespread adoption on more handsets has the potential to irk some wireless carriers, as it could potentially enable customers to avoid using wireless minutes. So far, U.S. mobile operators allow a few VoIP applications for the likes of the iPhone 3G, T-Mobile G1, and Windows Mobile, but these generally can only make calls via a Wi-Fi connection. But apps like Skype could wind up being lucrative for carriers because it could boost data plan adoption, and it could also lead to a possible revenue-sharing model.
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).