June 3, 2010

Millions Download Skype’s iPhone App

Skype said Wednesday that nearly 5 million consumers downloaded its Web telephony application that launched on Sunday, allowing users of Apple's iPhone to use privately held Skype's service over the cellular network for the first time.

Before the launch, consumers could only use Skype on their iPhone when they had Wi-Fi access that provides only short-range wireless service. Now it will be able to run on high-speed 3G networks.

"We've had millions of downloads to date," Skype's general manager for mobile, Russ Shaw, told Reuters.

Shaw said the application saw relatively good demand across Europe, North America and Pacific Asia, its three main operating regions.

However, complaints from Web commentators have surfaced now that Skype says it will start charging for 3G calls between Skype users next year. One of the main reasons Skype became so popular was due to free Skype-to-Skype calls regardless where the users made the calls -- from either their computers or their cellphones.

Shaw said the company needs to start charging for the service in order to fund its investments needed to ensure that the quality of 3G Skype calls stays high.

He declined to offer specific details on a pricing plan, but did say the service would still be competitive with rival services including traditional cellphone calls.

"We're not going to want to price ourselves out of the market," Shaw said, noting that he can't ignore the fact that consumers currently "use us for free."

Shaw said Skype hopes to support the next iPhone, which Apple Inc. plans to release June 7, but could not offer any details about Apple's announcement.


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