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Summary:

Skype and Verizon this week announced a partnership that would embed the Internet calling service on Verizon’s smartphones. The question on my mind was: Is this deal exclusive? And when executives refused to share details, I did some digging. Here are some new details.

Skype and Verizon announced a partnership earlier this week that would embed the Internet calling service on Verizon’s smartphones. The partnership, at least to me, was driven by Verizon’s fear of the iPhone.

I wondered if the two companies had signed an exclusive deal. But during the press conference, when I asked Verizon chief marketing officer John Stratton and Skype CEO Josh Silverman about the deal, they both dodged the question. Then later during a conversation with Silverman, when I asked if his company would work with another carrier in the U.S. building a solution similar to the one being offered to Verizon’s customers, he declined to answer the question.  “I cannot comment and speculate on this,” is what he said.

Their evasiveness, got me — like many of our readers — even more curious about the deal. I have been making calls to my sources and have picked up some interesting (though no means all) details.  The deal, my sources tell me, is an exclusive partnership between the two that will last for a period of 2-3 years. No other U.S. carrier is going to get a similar Skype offering — which also bolsters my theory that Skype can help Verizon distinguish itself amongst smartphone offerings, especially the iPhone.

Another thing I also picked up: Skype’s iPhone app for 3G is ready to go, but the company is holding it back, mostly because it’s worried about the AT&T network. Silverman recently told me that the company would release a Skype upgrade “very soon.” I wonder how much of the delay is caused by the influence wielded by their friends at Verizon.

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  1. OM, Skype’s app for SkypeOut calls was available at least a year ago for Windows phones on SPRINT. The app lets you make calls using cellular / WiFi connection. There is this ECHO issue that bothered be during the calls so I canceled the subscription. I hope the current APP works well.

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  4. OK, thanks – now who is paying whom in this deal? Is Verizon getting a cut of Skype Out revenues, or other fees originated through Verizon phones? iPhone fear is a bit amorphous – where’s the meat of this deal?

  5. Stephane Haddad Friday, February 19, 2010

    Good info! Thank’s for the competitor :)

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  8. Om, I think you have that all wrong. I think Verizon locked Skype into an agreement (notably without the participation of Vodafone, the world’s largest mobile telecommunications company, and owner of 50% of Verizon Wireless) because of the relentless Google onslaught. Google Voice is available on Android phones, and on Blackberrys, widely, carrier independent, able to use 3G, WiFi and UMA. Google appears to have marketing arrangements with T-Mobile as well, a wholly owned subsidiary of the fourth or fifth largest telecommunications company on the planet. I cannot imagine that any carrier would competitively be concerned about the iPhone, which can only be adopted in a complicated marketing arrangement with the manufacturer, is shackled to iTunes, and for which an entry level model does not exist.

  9. I am a bit confused on the significance of the VZW/Skype relationship. I agree that VZW wants (needs) to get on the 3G train before it has competely left the station. But if Skype is releasing an iPhone 3G app, then does VZW embedding the Sype app really achieve much in distinguishing VZW’s offerings?

    Maybe it would be a bit easier to make a call on a VZW phone. But I can’t see someone opting to buy a Blackberry Storm over an iPhone to get this feature.

  10. Om,
    Confused here. In what way is it exclusive if Skype over 3g on AT&T is a go ?

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