Only recently, there had been a great deal of speculation, about whether eBay was interested in selling their VoIP service, Skype. These stories have been put to rest for now with eBay announcing a partnership between Skype and the largest mobile phone manufacturer, Nokia.
CNet reports that Skype and Nokia announced their partnership at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The software for Skypeâ€™s Internet calling service will now be integrated on some of Nokiaâ€™s high-end smart phones. The first model to have this facility will be the N97, which is slated for a June release. The Skype service, however, will only be started in the third quarter of the year.
Once the service is started it will be integrated into the address book and users will automatically be able to see which of their Skype contacts are online. They will also be able to use its instant messaging service. This facility will enable N97 users to make calls over the Internet irrespective of whether they are using a 3G cellular network or a Wi-Fi network. All Skype-to-Skype voice calls will be free, while Skype to landline or mobile calls will be at low rates.
Sony Ericsson also announced a deal with Skype. Sony will provide a Skype panel on the Windows Mobile Xperia1 handset.
While this is great news for consumers, especially those who need to make frequent international calls, mobile network operators are not likely to be thrilled with this development. Free and low cost international calls via Skype would mean lower revenue generation for their own networks.
It is not impossible that networks such as AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile may require the Skype service to be discontinued from handsets using their networks in the U.S.A. Three UK is one of the only major networks to have forged a relationship with Skype.
Skypeâ€™s chief operating Officer Scott Durchslag says that though they are starting this service with the high end phones, it will also be made available on mid-tier handsets in the future.