Skype on the Blackberry – A New Era in the AlwaysOn World

Adding to Boston’s Illustrious Communications and Sporting History:

Fenway.RedSox.2006-06-12As a baseball fan for most of my life, I have always wanted to visit 95-year old Fenway Park, see the Green Monster (Monstah in Bostonese) and soak in the fan enthusiasm and true tradition of baseball. Last night was my opportunity. Because the Red Sox are doing so well, their games are “sold out” but I was lucky enough to be able to obtain a “resale” ticket (seats which subscribers have phoned in to make their seats available for resale) 20 rows behind home plate … always a good place to watch a knuckleball pitcher’s twists and turns. Arrived in my seat and soaked in the atmosphere at one of the two remaining ball parks where legendary Babe “The Great Bambino” Ruth played. The crowd was more than animated and ready to cheer on their home town heroes; my ears were not prepared for the decibel level.

FristSkypeFenway.2006-06-12.300pxBeing in the city where Alexander Graham Bell developed (I did not say invented) his first telephony devices, and having been introduced the previous evening to a Skype IM program that runs on the Blackberry, I made the first ever real time Skype communication live from historic Fenway Park to friend Alec Saunders who was at home in Ottawa rebuilding his PC. (I wanted to make this first communication with Boston-native Toronto resident but Red Sox fan and telecom analyst Jon Arnold but he was not on Skype at the time).

RedSoxWin.2006-06012.300pxIn the early days of baseball when travel was a little more tedious (for instance, by ground) often local radio stations would not send along a broadcast crew but rather would have someone send along game details (balls, strikes, etc.) by telegraph back to the home radio station and an announcer would “broadcast” the telegraph. As the game progressed I found myself sending along progress reports to Alec and began to appreciate the difficulty those telegraph operators would have had keeping up with pitch-by-pitch – especially since they would have to understand Morse code. However, in this case, as shown to the left, there was one-to-one two way communication. And as a final test, I had another Skype IM conversation with Jeremy Hague at Skylook in Australia; he was probably wondering what it means to say “Red Sox win!”.

im+.skypecontacts1.blurSo where does one find this Skype for the Blackberry? Monday evening at the PayPal Beer Bash, Jennifer Caukin, Skype’s North American Marcomm Manager tells me she has been trying a “Skype on the Blackberry” program for the past couple of days. After she gave me the two minute demo I had to download it. IM+ for Skype Software. By the time we got on the bus to the PayPal Blue Man Group performance, we were making a seat-to-seat call to test out the “Call” feature. Basically it goes through a callback algorithm (à la Jajah) where a callback is made to my mobile phone via a SkypeOut connection and calls the other party via either a Skype or SkypeOut connection.

IM+.LogoCost for the software is US$25; a 7-day free trial is available. SkypeOut costs, including connection fees where applicable, could apply twice for such calls (but in setting it up it asks whether you are on Skype’s Unlimited North America or SkypePro plans). More details on various cost scenarios are here. Keep in mind ShapeServices caveat: This product uses the Skype API but is not endorsed, certified or otherwise approved in any way by Skype.

Over the past two days I have been trialing the software. It does take a few minutes to load your contact list on each connection to a cellular network; and you lose that connection in the Ted Williams tunnel or riding the underground MBTA here in Boston. You are given the opportunity to run the software in background while carrying on your other Blackberry activities. But the bottom line is that it I have used it to facilitate some meeting arrangements here at Skype DevCon as well as for a few other Skype chat conversations. Today I also made a Skype Call successfully to Andy Abramson of VoIPWatch.

For several months now I have been advocating Skype on the Blackberry in the form of a Skype IM client but using a traditional underlying phone service due to the resource limitations of mobile devices when it comes to installing and running a VoIP client as well as the limitations imposed by 2.xG wireless phone protocols. With IM+ for Skype Software, we can get some first hand user experience at how such an implementation works in practice.

P.S. – my apologies to those who have been waiting a couple of days to find out more as a result of my earlier “Seat-to-Seat” calling post. The pace has been hectic here at eBay DevCon with both presentations, one-on-one meetings and having to attend Red Sox games when the opportunity arises. Thanks for your patience and I look forward to feedback on user experiences in the Comments.

And Mark Evans just as was having problems managing his Blackberry addiction here comes another drug to keep his sanity challenged!

Tags: Skype, IM+ for Skype Software, Blackberry, SkypeOut, Alec Saunders, Jon Arnold, Mark Evans, Skype IM, Skype on Blackberry, Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park


About Jim Courtney

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