Getting Closer to the True Numbers on Skype via Mobile

Yesterday UK web publication TelecomTV put out a post “Skype claims mobiles are involved in a quarter of its calls“. But a “correction” comment by the author, Tony Chan, disclaims his basic premise:

CORRECTION: As the original author of this story for CommsDay, I am corrected by Skype that the 4 billion minute figure is actually for Skype-to-Skype minutes with video, NOT mobile.

Turns out to be a confirmation of what we have heard in the past: 25% to 30% of all Skype-to-Skype calls invoke video calling.

So how can one generate Skype-to-Skype minutes from a mobile device? What % of Skype-to-Skype minutes are generated from a mobile device?

  • iSkoot: sets up a Skype session on their server using information delivered from the iSkoot client on a supported mobile device, such as BlackBerry or Nokia N-Series. When you make a Skype call, it’s Skype-to-Skype from the iSkoot server to your called Skype contact.
  • Skypephone: uses iSkoot’s algorithm with the one difference. 3 has set up their own “iSkoot” servers to support this service. As of October 1, 3 customers using iSkoot or a Skypephone can now make SkypeOut calls from any 3 Skype-enabled phone also.
  • Skype for Windows Mobile: here the limitation is the small, and decreasing, market share for Windows Mobile devices. It requires either a WiFi connection or 3G but the former is favored but both call quality and robustness reasons. But you can make both Skype-to-Skype and SkypeOut calls from this client. (And it’s the only instance of a true Skype VoIP client on mobile device — challenging both processor speeds and battery life.)
  • Skype for Mobile – currently at a beta stage with limited outbound calling; this service fundamentally uses the same architecture as iSkoot. (I suspect iSkoot has any appropriate intellectual property protected under this. After all, Skype and iSkoot are working together on Skypephone, etc. But it is interesting to experience the difference in user interfaces between iSkoot and Skype for Mobile) Again this does not put the full VoIP client on the device but rather back at a server. Probably not too many minutes here yet.
  • Update: Mobivox CEO Peter Diedrich emailed to remind me that their voice-enabled service also has the ability to launch Skype-to-Skype voice calls. From any landline or mobile handset worldwide the caller makes a “local” call to VoxGirl who, in turn, launches and connects to a Skype session on a Mobivox server. Effectively creating a landline- or mobile-to-Skype call, Mobivox requires no downloads or client software. VoxGirl will determine presence information to decide whether to proceed with a call; however, there is no IM/chat capability.
  • I have described my experience with Fring for iPhone when it launched almost two months ago. My problem with any iPhone application of this nature is that there is currently no background processing such that you can allow an IM session to run in background while executing other applications.

And how successful has 3’s Skypephone service been? We initially heard some qualitative information at eComm 2008 last spring. But, information supplied by Skype’s PR this morning provides us the basis for an order-of-magnitude guestimate:

“…. since Skype launched the 3 Skypephone in November last year, there have been over over 100 million minutes of Skype-to-Skype calls by users of the 3 Skypephone and other mobile handsets with Skype and there are currently more than a million minutes of Skype-to-Skype calls each day on 3 mobiles in the UK.”

So out of 16 billion Skype-to-Skype minutes each quarter (as reported in the last eBay quarterly analyst call), it would appear that, at the current > 1 million minutes/day on 3, 75 to 100 million minutes per quarter are via mobile handsets. Hmmm, that makes about 0.5%  to 0.8% of all Skype-to-Skype minutes.

Why can 3 offer this service at such low prices? As explained by iSkoot CEO Mark Jacobstein at eComm 2008 last March, there are no termination charges for Skype-to-Skype calls, even when one Skype session is on an iSkoot server.

P.S. – Want to keep up-to-date on these issues? opens a week Monday.

Full disclosure: the author uses iSkoot on a BlackBerry Bold when out of the office; he has also experienced successful use on a Nokia N95.

Tags: Skype, iSkoot, Skypephone, Skype Mobile, eComm2008, Mark Jacobstein, Tags: TelecommTV, Tony Chan

About Jim Courtney

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

, , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.