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Summary:

Verizon and Skype shared details of their partnership: an exclusive Skype mobile client for BlackBerry and Android handsets arrives this week. Skype-to-Skype calls won’t count against data or voice limits although all Skype calls will be routed over Verizon’s traditional voice circuits.

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We knew that today would bring some news from Verizon and Skype — the companies just held a joint event at the CTIA show announcing Skype Mobile availability. This partnership actually formed last month but the details are filling in just today. Starting this Thursday, March 25, nine initial Verizon 3G handsets will support the exclusive Skype mobile client including those on the BlackBerry and Android platforms. The first nine are the BlackBerry Storm 9530, Storm2 9550, Curve 8330, Curve 8530, 8830 World Edition, and Tour 9630, as well as the Motorola Droid, Devour and HTC Eris. The software will appear in Android Market and be pushed to the Downloads folder of BlackBerry devices on Thursday. It can be grabbed by texting “SKYPE” to 2255 for the download link or by hitting Skype’s mobile page at http://www.skype.com/mobile/

Russ Shaw, general manager of Mobile for Skype, summarizes the news:

“Skype mobile will deliver an unparalleled experience for Verizon Wireless customers. It will be the best way to enjoy unlimited conversations with Skype contacts all over the world at no extra cost. In addition, Skype mobile will allow people to easily and inexpensively make calls to landlines and mobiles abroad at Skype rates.”

Once installed, customers get free unlimited Skype-to-Skype calls and chat, neither activity counts against data or voice minute limits. Interestingly, Verizon will route all Skype voice calls over its standard voice circuit switches to insure the quality of service. This means the app won’t work over Wi-Fi and if you try to make SkypeOut calls, they will count against your minutes or your Skype credits. After signing in, the application runs in the background for presence purposes and to receive Skype calls or chats at any time. I assume that you can log out and shut down the application to save battery life or show as offline. Verizon says that phone contacts can be merged with Skype mobile for a single list of contacts for calling or instant messaging.

Verizon said that additional BlackBerry and Android devices gain the client as the handsets are added to the network. That, of course, begs the question about the Nexus One which is coming to Verizon soon. Will Skype mobile only officially work with or be offered on Nexus One phones on Verizon’s network?

Image courtesy of Skype

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Could Skype in Your Pocket Beat the iPod Touch?

  1. Well, this kind of “Skype client” can I use on my 5 years old Treo650. What a dissapointment :( or is it a bad joke?

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  2. I should be happy after watching the iphone and all other networks in the uk offer skpye on phone less superior than the balckberry. What don’t get why is the process so long and complicated? Why can’t they just replicate the iphone or 3 network model. I like my blackberry for work but not having skype as I use it for business is a shame and waiting 1 year for app even though its not support on the bold 8900 its dumb. RIM sort it out as my contract end soon and I will get an iphone

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  3. From The looks of it, it’s similar to the system used by Three (http://www.three.co.uk/Internet_Services/Call_chat/Call_chat_service?content_aid=1220455597804) In the UK and elsewhere where the Calls are routed over the Normal cell network and not data to preserve call quality. The system works pretty well, as you can still make and receive calls whether you are on 3G or 2G.

    The primary difference, at least on the face of it is that while Three was using iSkoot (http://www.iskoot.com) at the back end to provide the switching, this looks like a native Skype service, but until more details become available its still a guess.

    While the THREE iSkoot client was only supported on some platforms, iSkoot itself has support for a ton of handsets (http://www.iskoot.com/products/skype/devices)

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  4. Hi I am a black berry user and enjoy this device a lot, how can us as black berry users who do not have black berry Verizon can also enjoy skype? How can we get connected? Accept by I’m + or the likes?

    Looking forward your prompt respond

    Alex
    RSA

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  5. I’m so upset about my Skype usage on my Verizon Droid Eris. I was using it today to talk to both my best friend who has the Skype app of his Droid and with my boyfriend who has it on his iPhone and BOTH calls were charged against my Verizon minutes. I when through the steps to make the call EXACTLY as it appeared on Verizon’s tutorial on their website and it worked EXACTLY as they said it would, but it still was NOT FREE, as they advertised it. I was on the phone with 2 Verizon agents already today and no one can tell me why it’s doing it. I’m so, so, SO angry. They free Skype-to-Skype is a joke if you ask me.

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