Is Skype For iPhone A Telco Trojan Horse?

Apple seems to have the knack to impose whatever it wants on telecommunication giants like T-Mobile, O2 or AT&T, whatever their sizes without having much to worry.

The company imposed the iPhone design, the fact that it should have a cheap-to-free data access (that' the case at least in UK with O2), shared revenue scheme in exchange for exclusivity as well as more flexible terms and conditions - you can watch Youtube or listen to Orb or Last.fm on your iPhone although it is clearly forbidden in O2's T&C.

Andrew Orlowski, from the Register, explored this interesting Paradox in detail. He asks an interesting question "how did someone with no track record in a notoriously difficult business find itself walking away with the laurels?". Simple. Apple listened to its customers rather than the networks.

But there's an untold truth as well in Apple's move to allow Ebay to put Skype on the iPhone. With more than 405 million users, Skype is bigger than anything else. For one it is bigger than the Myspace and Facebook put together, so could it be that Apple be eyeing a Skype acquisition?

Following the "listen to your customers" thread, one can argue that customers want mobile networks to behave like fixed line ISPs, essentially becoming dumb networks, something that the likes of AT&T and Vodafone have been fighting for a very long time and have had the upper hand till now.

Apple's cosying up with Skype could be the first step towards some interesting strategies. Skype, which is already the biggest international phone company, could help it make headways in other markets.

It could also provide Apple with the leverage it needs to break the stronghold that mobile networks have on the world of wireless telecommunications.

But that's won't be a simple task given that Skype on Apple essentially means loss revenue and even less control on mobile services.

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Our Comments

It shouldn't come as a surprise if mobile phone networks start what will essentially be a tug of war. T-Mobile has already said that it will be banning Skype on iPhone in Germany. O2 could enforce more stringently the terms and conditions that legally binds iPhone users in UK. Unlike Youtube or Last.fm, VoIP is not a victimless crime as, from the telcos perspective, it literally robs them from potential revenue.

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