In a deal that would have been unheard of just a couple of years ago, Skype has announced it will partner with Verizon to bring VoIP calls over 3G
to a range of smartphones powered by the carrier. The two companies have built a new always-on application called Skype Mobile, which will enable free and unlimited calls between Skype members, cheaper international rates with Skype Out and instant messaging.
The application will launch in March for free, but naturally it will require a voice and data plan. Supported devices will initially include the BlackBerry Storm, Storm 2, Curve 8330, Curve 8530, 8830 World Edition and the Tour 9630, as well as the Motorola Droid, the HTC Droid Eris and the Motorola Devour. The calls will be carried over Verizon's voice network and reportedly won't impact overall network quality.
In a statement, Skype CEO Josh Silverman expressed the company's plan to make this new alliance the best platform for Skype to run claiming that what "you'll see from Verizon, you won't see from anyone else." Silverman may have been indirectly referring to the somewhat limited Skype experience on the iPhone. Curiously, though, a 3G-enabled Skype app is meant to be coming to Apple's device too, so for now it remains anyone's guess as to how the Skype functionality will differ on these two platforms.
The executive did voice his intent to put video and conference calling into Verizon's Skype Mobile, but didn't offer a solid date -- and then again there aren't many (if any) smartphones with front facing cameras to facilitate this.