Marketplace Scratch Pad

Is Skype the next Google?

Scott Jagow Mar 30, 2009

Tomorrow, Skype launches its new app for the Iphone, and in May, the Blackberry gets one. I don’t know if the mobile phone companies are worried, but I’m thinking they should be.

The Financial Times says Skype’s cheap rates going mobile might not be a threat to the big telecoms, yet:

While Skype’s mobile and enterprise offerings give the company a toehold in two important markets, they are unlikely to disrupt major telecom operators in the near term. Instead, the new products may be part of Ebay’s positioning of Skype for a sale once market conditions improve.

Ebay isn’t talking sale, but shareholders are already getting restless with the $3 billion purchase, since Skype and Ebay don’t make much sense together. If Skype gets closer to its goal of becoming the “world’s leading communications software company,” I’m sure someone with brains will see it as a potential gold mine.

Silicon Alley Insider gives four reasons why Skype on the Iphone won’t be a threat to AT&T, which is the Iphone’s exclusive US carrier at the moment:

  • To use Skype, you must be connected to a wi-fi hotspot.
  • You can’t receive calls to your main number via Skype.
  • You can’t receive calls on Skype unless the Skype app is open.
  • You still have to pay your phone bill.

This is small potatoes stuff that might change. Om Malik at Gigaom has tried out the Skype Iphone app and his verdict: Awesome.

Read Write Web gives 10 reasons why Skype might be the next built-to-last tech company, along the lines of Amazon and Google. Among the reasons:

It has revenue, about $500 million in 2008. Ahem, only in the strange world of Web 2.0 is that considered remarkable. I love using Twitter, but without sustainable revenue their future has to be in question.

Just wait until it bites into those cell phone bills. Skype on mobile phones… has been held back by the mobile operator’s head lock on the device manufacturers. At some point the dam will break. Consumers pent up anger over nickle and diming cell phone bills will ensure that a real alternative will be welcomed.

I’m not a Skype-head like the author of that article, but I can see its appeal and potential for at least increasing mobile phone competition. Very few people saw Google’s success coming, save those who looked far enough down the road.

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