Skype for iPhone: The Response and Coverage

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While, being a Canadian where I could not try out Skype for iPhone “legally”, I have followed the coverage and comments across the web. At this point I simply want to provide a summary and links to some of the feedback. In some sense, Hudson Barton’s tweet earlier today, shown above, sums it all up.

First, I should mention, however, that as of the end of its first day of availability, Skype for iPhone was the number one downloaded iPhone application in ten forty countries: U.S., U.K., Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Russia, Japan and Australia and thirty others; it was number 2 in China. According to one chat message I observed, there were over 600,000 downloads on Tuesday’s launch day.

The Reviews

Om Malik on GigaOm: Review: Skype for iPhone. Verdict: Awesome

My Verdict: For those of you that use Skype on a daily basis and own an iPhone, this could very quickly become the simplest way to make long-distance calls. And I’m predicting a big upsurge in Skype as an “IM client” with this release.

To Skype developers who worked on this product, I have two words: Great work! Of course, it would be even better if you got it launched on the BlackBerry so that I could use it on my Curve 8900.

Liane Cassvoy on PC World: First Look: Skype for the iPhone

You won’t find a whole lot in the way of iPhone-only features in this version of Skype. You can use your iPhone camera to take a picture to use as your profile photo, or you can upload a picture from your existing photo roll. But that’s about it. Still, if you’re looking for a solid mobile VoIP service for your iPhone, I can easily recommend Skype. Sure, rival services like Truphone have some features that Skype for iPhone lacks–such as the ability to chat via third-party IM services like AIM and Yahoo Messenger. But, to me, call quality is what matters. And Skype wins that battle easily.

Phil Glockner on ReadWriteWeb: Skype for iPhone: It’s Real and It’s Spectacular

Rest assured the interface is slick and the app works as promised. But, I think the real reason why we are all so excited about this release over other Skype-enabled iPhone apps like Fring or Truphone is simply how much it works like its desktop-bound big brother that we know and love. Instant messaging chats just work. Group chats just work. Getting at-a-glance status on your Skype friends just works. The bottom line is, other apps may get the job done, but due to bad interface design, a critical missing feature, or trying to do too much, are not a pleasure to use. This client actually is a pleasure.

James Kendall at jkontherun has done a video of his call to colleague Kevin Tofel attending CTIA; they certainly were impressed.

dytypingfromdumpDan York, Skype for iPhone – All I Want From It Is …, discusses the power of Skype’s persistent chat feature, especially when it comes to group chats:

MY ONE BIG WISH

While all this is true, I personally don’t really care. Sure, it will be great to be able to receive a Skype call and sure, it be great to be able to make a Skype call (all on WiFi of course). Sure, all that’s great.

But there is one single thing that I am looking for in this Skype for iPhone application that has been missing from Fring, IM+, TruPhone and every other iPhone app that has offered some type of Skype integration. In a word, it is simply this:

groupchats

Over the past several years I have become a huge user of Skype multi-user groupchats. Both for internal groupchats within organizations or companies and also for public groupchats where people have joined together to discuss common topics. They are an incredible communication tool – and no other iPhone app has delivered those for Skype.

On Dan’s point I have to agree strongly. Chat is 90% of my Skype activity. I have used iSkoot on the BlackBerry largely to follow my Skype chat sessions when out of my home office. The biggest issue has been battery drain; it is imperative to recharge at least daily when using iSkoot (and sometimes more often). iSkoot will follow Public Chats but not group chats.

If Skype cannot resolve the Canadian patent-licensing issue, at least offer a Canadian edition that follows chat sessions. One major advantage of iSkoot (or any Skype client, such as IM+ for Skype) on the BlackBerry is that chat activity can occur in background with message notification whereas following chat activity on the iPhone requires that the Skype application be open.

My own experience: Yesterday I did receive, on my Skype for Windows 4.0 client, a call from a Skype for iPhone user in the U.K.; it was a twenty minute call where call quality was fine for a call over the G729 codec. We could carry on a normal discussion. At the end the caller said that Skype for iPhone got the JB Seal of Approval.

Bottom line: I have seen several Tweets and chat messages along the lines of Hudson’s message above, it appears that, in spite of technology limitations, there will be a lot of Skype chat messaging over WiFi, 3G and 2G/EDGE and a lot of Skype calling from WiFi access points.

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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