Monday, April 28, 2008

Why Skype (eBay) should buy iSkoot

Skype launched a thin java client that works on about 50 of the most popular java enabled mobile phones that include Motorola,nokia,Samsung and Sony Ericson. Looking at the number of models supported for each of these brands, nokia users are lucky. This is a follow up to their recent announcement of unlimited calling plans.

Some highlights of the announcement:

• Works on almost 50 handsets, with a data plan.
• Costs just a little to make and receive calls.
• See when your contacts are online.
• Instant message or call them using Skype.
• Save on mobile calls to friends and family overseas.

So what is that Skype is doing different from iSkoot, a startup that was providing Skype access from mobile phone. Mobile Operator 3 launched mobile Skype client that was powered by iSkoot. Andy clarifies that the new clients are not powered by iSkoot. From what I read from the Skype’s announcement, the working of handset client is pretty much similar to iSkoot. They use the data network for signaling and voice is routed through circuit switch network. In other words, Skype client shall not use wireless data bandwidth for Voice Packets. The Skype client on the mobile shall dial a local gateway number, which in turn shall connect the user to the destination Skype user. This is exactly what iSkoot was doing all these days. So, what iam failing to understand is- why is Skype reinventing the wheel again. IMHO, iSkoot always followed the Skype game. They never tried to beat Skype by bypassing their Skype in or Skype out revenues.

Apparently iSkoot recently announced their partnership with Skype . Here are some interesting tidbits from the article

Under the agreement, iSkoot will have certain exclusive rights to offer Skype-branded mobile software enabled by the iSkoot solution to mobile network operators in Argentina, Greece, Israel, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey. These products will deliver mobile Skype voice functionality based on circuit switch-to-VoIP technology. iSkoot delivers an end-to-end client/server/gateway solution that leverages the ubiquitous circuit switching infrastructure of the traditional voice network and offers either an on-premises or iSkoot-hosted ASP implementation.

Compared to other Skype mobile clients, iSkoot stayed loyal to the Skype community by supporting only Skype access. Other startups like Fring , Soonr , Eqo support different Third-Party IM clients. For e.g., fring clients support many of the popular IM clients including Skype. Another startup, Mobivox kind of sensed the danger earlier and started moving towards supporting international cheap calling arena. I guess it was indeed a smart move.

I guess it makes more sense for Skype to buy iSkoot, which has proven the technology by going live with a Mobile Operator. In Addition, this company has been around for couple of years now. Though from a technology standpoint, Skype shall have more control than iSkoot. Nevertheless, rather than starting from the scratch, Skype can leverage the iSkoot platform and go for a kill faster.

All that said, it depends on how eBay views the whole scenario. Maybe, eBay doesn’t want to shell out anymore money on Skype. Or the iSkoot technology by itself is not that complicated to be built by Skype.

I don’t agree with Phil Wolff' Article where he mentions iSkoot as a rival to Skype. Its not, I see iSkoot as an extension to Skype. Anyways, If it turns out sour, Where does this leave iSkoot. Oh Boy, I would definitely be worried about this announcement from Skype. So does this mark a new beginning to iSkoot, which can follow in the footsteps of mobivox,eqo or fring. Or continue supporting some of the countries(Argentina, Greece, Israel, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey ) as per the recent agreement with Skype, and in future be replaced by Skype’s own clients after their beta trail. Interesting questions with no answers. Stay tuned, will get more updates.

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Anonymous said...

I dont think this well ever happen. Ebay has already burnt their fingers buying Skype. Another one, no way. Loser!

Anonymous said...

Now that Skype has launched their own client, why would they want to buy iSkoot. iSkoot should sue skype for using their technology.

omfut said...

Well atleast eBay can make more money by supporting Mobile Clients for skype access.

True, skype with their own client chances of iSkoot being bought is slim.


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