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iSkoot, not Skype launched on Symbian

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There is a lot of chatter amongst VoIP bloggers about the launch of Symbian version of Skype, mostly inspired by this story in The Inquirer. That is not exactly the case.

You see what happened was that iSkoot, a Cambridge, MA.-based company cut a deal with 3g wireless service provider, 3, part of the Hutchison empire. As part of that deal, 3 would install iSkoot in some of its handsets including two Symbian based phones, the Nokia N73 and Sony Ericsson W950. iSkoot is not an official Skype product, and despite a tepid endorsement by Skype, and its capabilities, cannot be qualified as Skype for Symbian.

About 100,000 to 150,000 such phones would have iSkoot embedded in them. Jacob Guedalia, CEO of iSkoot told us that 3 will host the iSkoot technology and integrate it all with its billing and provisioning systems. A small flat fee will be involved for those choosing to use the iSkoot for Skype service on the 3 wireless networks.

The iSkoot software for various platforms including Symbian has been available for sometime, but this is the first time it has been OEM-ed to a mobile phone company, Guedalia said.

3, which has been one of the most aggressive builders of 3G networks hasn’t enjoyed much commercial success compared to some of their larger counterparts. There were rumors of Vodafone being interested in 3 for the right price.

The company is betting that the XSeries effort, a way to bring Internet services such as iSkoot (Skype) and Sling Media will make it more appetizing to consumers. This forced openeness has our good friend Carlo Longino in a bit of a swoon.

17 Responses to “iSkoot, not Skype launched on Symbian”

  1. iSkoot has done a good job executing against the Skype opportunity. What most people don’t realize is that the Skype proposition of Voice-over-broadband-wireless is both impractical and predatory to the wireless carriers’ business models. What on earth would motivate a Hutch 3G or Vodafone to offer Skype using VoIP?

    History has proven that customers aren’t as price conscious on mobile and they certainly buy into the convenience of taking calls from the online world on their mobile phones… they’ll pay the same for sure to do so.

    This is an example where Skype as a calling network is crossing the chasm between being a low-cost (free) medium and being the medium of choice for certain kinds of users.

    iSkoot has executed well vs. others against making this useful and easy. They are the carrier-friendly approach to enabling Skype on mobile and will reap succcess as a partner with those carriers, but not as a mass-market phenom.


  2. Dave Beck

    iSkoot is great, it works on any 2G network and only needs GPRS for the data path. I could live without the Skype though, I only use Skypeout, just need bridge to a regular VoIP service. International calls at VoIP prices, 4 bar coverage, support on millions of handsets. My kind of hack.

  3. iSkoot is a hack.

    The mobile client is using the data and voice streams to toggle between sending and receiving data to make this function. Most important to note is that the calls happen over the voice channel. Data is just used to do things like tell their server who you want to call, get your buddy list, signin/out.

    On the backend they are running Asterisk servers to bridge the calls placed from the mobile device. They currently instantiate a Skype client with your credentials on your behalf. It’s definitely not something folks should be taking too seriously.

    Getting a call back on the voice channel of your mobile device isn’t a sexy implementation of skype on mobile. Focusing on the data channel is where it’s at. Even more interesting would be the ability to seemlessly failover between different data bearer channels (and potentially only use the voice channel as a last effort).

  4. Interesting, seeing how 3 through the “Skype” name around in their press release. I wonder what Skype gets/wants from this. They are providing the brand awareness and subscribers.