Finally. I've been waiting for Skype to come to the iPhone for two years, since before Apple
"Everyone likes free calls. Skype on the iPhone could give users that without the angst of relying on VoIP as a line replacement. Would that be worth $600? At least -- and that's just one feature," I wrote at the time.
Today, my wait ends.
You can go to bed now, Ma Bell
Early reviews of Skype for iPhone are positive. Writes tech columnist Om Malik:
Of course, what really matters about this Skype app is its communication quality. To that end, a call I made to a friend in Israel sounded better than a regular mobile phone call. Few of the calls I made got dropped, and those that were can be attributed more to network congestion than to Skype. [This section was later updated to clarify the app only works on Wi-Fi, not 3G networks]
I've yet to download the software, but I'm excited to try it. When I do, it'll be my first time using Skype in months. I had all but given up on the desktop version of eBay's
Yet Skype on the iPhone could solve a big problem for me. AT&T
The platform we've been waiting for?
Fools may remember that I once viewed Skype as the killer app for the iPhone, the one that would make its $600 price tag worthwhile.
Much has changed since then. For one, the high-end version of the device now sells for $299 rather than $599. For another, the App Store is now home to about 25,000 software applications; some for games, some for social media like Twitter and Facebook, and some for business.
And while the App Store has limits -- only 20% of those who grab iPhone software use it the day after downloading -- I find it instructive that Palm
This rebellion won't be crushed
What matters is the context. Having Skype and tethering (i.e., using your phone to connect your computer to the Web) in the 3.0 version of the iPhone software says that we're unbound, that we choose connectivity on our terms, rather than those imposed on us by telecoms like AT&T.
Or at least that's what we hope.
The truth is that Ma Bell profits plenty from the iPhone and will continue to. So confident is she that AT&T is now selling unlocked versions of the device for between $599 and $699 each. Voice and data plan prices, meanwhile, remain the same. Those who don't want an AT&T plan are free to choose T-Mobile.
If Ma Bell is scared, she isn't showing it. But that's today, when Skype and similarly-styled VoIP iPhone software -- Truphone and JAJAH, for example -- are limited by the range and pervasiveness of Wi-Fi networks. There's little danger in allowing consumer choice right now.
What would Darwin say?
That won't always be the case. Thanks to Clearwire
Maybe. We've really no idea if WiMAX can disrupt telecom as thoroughly as we'd like to believe. At the very least, AT&T and its peers are fighting back with an advanced technology entitled LTE, for "Long Term Evolution."
An appropriate name, don't you think? Skype for the iPhone is just the beginning -- the beginning of a revolution that demands open telephony choices. Ma Bell will either adjust, or die trying.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the market-beating Rule Breakers team and had stock and options positions in Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy still plays the classic PC game DOOM from time to time.