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Steve Chiotakis: This morning, Verizon rolled out a new application for its Android and Blackberry smartphones. The nation's biggest wireless carrier will allow subscribers to make calls using Skype -- the voice-over-internet service. Here's Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman.
Mitchell Hartman: If you have SkypeMobile, and the person you call in, say, Israel or Brazil, does too, the call is free. That's because it's traveling along Verizon's data network, just like any other internet connection.
The companies are pitching this hard in a new YouTube video:
Skype Video: You can make unlimited calls to other people on Skype, and they won't use up your plan minutes or incur data charges. Talk as long as you want.
Maggie Reardon of the technology news site CNET was at the Vegas trade show where the app was unveiled. She says unlike when you use Skype on a computer or iPhone, with Verozon it'll always be on.
Maggie Reardon: They don't even have to be logged into the application, they can just pick up the call, and that's pretty cool.
Christopher Collins: It wasn't that long ago that Verizon was dead-set against this idea.
Christopher Collins tracks consumer technology at the Yankee Group. He says the wireless industry has mostly tried to block us from making Internet calls on cell phones. That's so we'll have to pay for all those minutes.
Collins: Why this is not necessarily Verizon "eating its own lunch," as some might have said, is it's just an acknowledgement of the fact that wireless is increasingly becoming all about data. And the traditional way of thinking about, "Well, I'll buy a plan that gives me so many voice minutes," that's just becoming increasingly irrelevant.
What is driving revenue? Expensive smartphones, and high-end data plans to match -- both of which you'll need to reach Skype's 500 million users worldwide.
One thing you won't get on a Skype mobile app, by the way: video calling. Think about it: those cell phone cameras all point the wrong way.
I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.