Skype 3G iPhone: 5M Downloads — But What's the Usage?

Skype says that less than a week after it was made available, nearly 5 million people have downloaded the 3G version of its iPhone app, with the demand distributed across Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region. I was among them, even though I don’t have a 3G connection, and I’m pretty sure many others without 3G connections did the same. But how many people are actively using the service? Now that’s an important question, and one Reuters forgot to ask.

The company recently told me that the Skype app had been downloaded a total of 12 million times by owners of the iPhone and iPod touch. And while it plans to charge for 3G calls between Skype users starting next year, “We’re not going to want to price ourselves out of the market,” Russ Shaw, Skype’s VP of mobile, told Reuters. “I can’t ignore the fact that consumers (currently) use us for free.”

I wonder if, between AT&T’s new data tariffs and Skype’s charges, there will really be a cost advantage to using Skype. Regardless, we can expect to see its usage climb starting next week, when Apple introduces the newest version of the iPhone with multitasking features. Many people are likely to leave Skype running in the background, especially for IM and Skype-to-Skype call purposes.

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