While the the obvious intent of a Nokia Skype deal is about voice calling, it could definitely have a substantial impact on mobile video calling. Â As noted in the just linked Techlivez post, the Skype deal will integrate Skype directly into Contacts – meaning it’s not a separate application, but rather an available protocol.
It’s too early to know how real that is, but the idea is actually pretty huge and I can suddenly see how this makes carriers nervous as they consider the potential loss to their voice revenues. Â As an integrated experience I could imagine seeing another option in my call menu which would include options for sending a Skype message or making a a Skype call much like making an Internet Call appears when you’ve added a SIP account today. Â The difference of course is that very few people with the exception of a few geeks actually use the intgrated SIP stack. Â I made a Skype video call with my parents over the weekend and Skype reported over 14 Million active connections during that time – that’s some serious potential!
Now back to video for a moment… Video calling usage is low for a few reasons. Â First are the data costs, but I think even more importantly is that the service is operator provisioned – at least on the integrated front. Â The 3rd party options work, but are also have limiting factors as they require some advanced planning on both sides to make sure everyone has the right applications and connections on either their PC or mobile. Â Skype on the other hand is a fairly ubiquitous application and something you can expect to find on the other end of a lot of people’s PCs today. Â I’ve even been seeing Skype on national TV lately on Oprah, the Today Show and not a commerical but in actual use as part of the show. Â These are programs watched by (again) millions of people who are seeing Â Skype in action. Â One video call with my parents and they could easily see AND hear (Skype’s voice quality is awesome) the benefits.
I’ve had a front facing camera on my mobile phone since 2005 when I first received the N70. Â Since that time, I’ve been able to make a single video call. Â Even with a flat data rate and a 3.5G as well as wifi capable device, no carrier supports direct video calling (in the US) without first subscribing to a proprietary service that of course restricts use to a few select phones. Â Skype could very easily change all this and if they offer video this change could substantially impact how we communicate. Â Sure we still have to get around the data tarrifs, but that is actually happening more and more on a global basis even which is excellent as it enables greater usage … exactly what we need. Â As I’ve mentioned previously my own usage is at least 90% data if not more. Â Skype would only add to this … even as a voice option and I would expect a considerable shift to data over voice (in time) as more people realize the potential.