Skype for Mobile: An Interview with Skype’s Russ Shaw

skype_logo[1] At CES 2010 last month I had the opportunity to record interviews with Skype CEO Josh Silverman as well as Russ Shaw, Vice President and General Manager of Skype Mobile and EMEA, and Matt Jordan, Enterprise Business Development Manager.

In this second interview Russ Shaw covers a wide range of questions about Skype on different mobile phones, the business model that complements wireless carriers’ goals and other challenges as Skype executes on its mobile component of “Skype Everywhere”.

In the first segment Russ discusses revenues from Skype for Mobile activities, execution on the Nokia agreement and the Sony Xperia, the challenges of working in the mobile ecosystem and carrier partnerships. Russ emphasizes that Skype for Mobile’s main goal is to get usage on as many mobile devices as possible as part of the Skype Everywhere goal.

In the second segment Russ discusses Skype for BlackBerry (announced last spring but still running a beta trial), their learnings from the beta and how to ensure a positive user experience. He then goes on to explain how Skype can provide a carrier partnership business model that, based on Skype’s experience with 3, can be a complement that builds a wireless carrier’s overall business. He then provides an analogy of how O2 used a freemium model to build their business around free offerings of music; free Skype-to-Skype calling is the basis of a freemium model for carriers. We go on to discuss Skype for Android in the next segment. This is followed by asking Russ to sum up what’s ahead for Skype on mobile smartphones.

But then I ask one closing question that would really support “Skype Everywhere” in a very common user situation; I can only supplement the discussion by pointing out that, when I get into my car, a Bluetooth-enabled BlackBerry is on my belt (with my Otter Box Defender case). And, during the discussion, Canadians will learn about one more Skype service coming soon to Canada.

Bottom line: Is 2010 the year we can access our Skype contacts worldwide from the majority of smartphones? How many carriers will really catch onto the “3” business model and adopt Skype as a formal offering? And will I be able to get into my car and simply say: “Call Russ Shaw on Skype” to make a hands-free Skype call from my mobile smartphone?

Update: As mentioned above Russ talks about the success with 3 using Skype and the Skypephone. Just prior to posting I learned that 3 has now logged 1 billion minutes of Skype-to-Skype calling. In their summary notes 3 states also that “Over 2m people use internet services like Skype on 3” out of their 4 million active UK customers. (BTW, this is not the only story I have heard about how Skype is helping to maintain communications with Haiti; I have seen a few Skype video calls as television interviews as well; probably makes for another story.)

Of interest: Russ has authored an article at Connect World, Mobile operators should co-operate with application and content providers to take advantage of the mobile Internet boom, where he discusses the  issue of mobile operators working with VoIP providers to build their overall business where he supports the success with 3:

There is already some evidence that the entire discussion is based on a misconception, and that, in reality, using the Internet to make calls does not cannibalize the revenues of operators. Some operators, like Three in the UK, have already changed their business model. They are challenging their competitors by partnering with a software company, offering a popular application that allows mobile VoIP calls at no extra cost, providing their customers with a very tangible extra value and comprehensive user experience by integrating the application into a range of mobile handsets. As a result, the group of customers using these services generate 20 per cent higher margins than non-users, voice revenue being a key contribution to this. A survey undertaken in August 2009 revealed that users of this application used on average 17 percent more traditional voice minutes than non-users. Next to this, a comparatively lower churn rate and higher ARPU (average revenue per user) was one of the positive outcomes as well. [Author’s bolds]

Other Skype executive interviews from CES 2010:

  • Skype for Business: An Interview with Skype’s Matt Jordan
  • A Conversation with Skype CEO Josh Silverman
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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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