Skype Journal

Unbound Spiral: Skype Mobility

April 6, 2004 05:31 PM

Look beyond Skype's PDA mobility announcement today and start probing at the emerging challenges for cellphone manufacturers and providers. The deeper threat here is to current wireless charging models. The upset will turn over minute plans, reduce the current cellphone purchse price subsidies and force the emergence of new UI's (user interfaces).

So I'm closing this post with a few quick thoughts that probe beyond the Skype's PDA announcement which leaves me a little flat. This is just one of many PR releases. It's been no secret for sometime. Skype is not alone in developing PDA VoIP solutions. There are a number available including ones that already dial the old telephone network. There aren't many users with these PDA gadgets in their tool kits and $500+ is a little too much to just go out for a play.

The system requirements for Skype's PDA beta version will find a small number of testers with.

  • Microsoft Pocket PC 2003 Operating System
  • WiFi and 400 MHz processor

    Still they are coming....


    Zeenstrom indicated he believes this mobile market will develop gradually, because, for one thing, not many PDAs are yet equipped with Wi-Fi capability. However, there is a new generation of PDAs coming later this spring, some of which will be fitted with Intel's powerful new 530-MHz Xscale processor running on a new improved version of Microsoft's mobile OS. Many of these will be equipped with Wi-Fi capability. When Wi-Fi isn't included in a new PDA, it can be added relatively easily and inexpensively with a Wi-Fi-equipped SD card. Internet Week > E-Business > Mobile Software Ties Wi-Fi, VoIP For Free Calls > April 6, 2004

    So for this to really to take off Wi-Fi must continue accelerating and the costs of the PDA's will have to become much cheaper. It's not enough to argue that using Skype's mobile solution will pay out vs a high cellphone contract after six months. While that may be the current Skype rationale this move is targeted longer term at emerging Enterprise solutions. It may be more appropriate to look at solutions where high density mobility within a connected fairly contained workforce is important. Hospital is a good example.

    So what may Skype's new mobility platform mean for the mobile phone market? For years we've had the POTS in the crosshairs, with predictions of zero costs to call. Today Skype has demonstrated it and the recent flat rate and all you can eat plans confirm the direction.

    However how many wireless providers think that a minuteless world is likely to converge simultaneously? Or even soon? Every cellular calling plan I know of is being obsoleted by Skype's mobility model. My 19.99 T-Mobile connection is proving that to me and I'm not yet using it like I could. I also know of Skypers connecting internationally while their laptops are connected to mobile phones (CMDA-1). Thats a flat rate or KB charge. It has nothing to do with minutes. It's cheap.

    Let's go wild it's late. What could we add to the PDA charger that would enable Wi-Fi to access the internet anywhere there is a plug...... using the electricity grid. Could HP adds the capability to the PDA charger.... In some countries broadband is delivered via the grid. No WiFi --- find a plug? Back to reality....

    If the minute threat isn't enough then Skype for many may just become a bridge to the local phone system. Eg local call to my home PC Skype - jumps to New Zealand Skyper that rings his local cellphone. Frankly these are the twists that are just beginning to make it very interesting. The quality trade-off will be eliminated overtime.

    Lastly Skype has made it reasonably clear. They are expecting to provide a product that will work in a mobile phone. That has implications for SMS revenue streams and minute plans. In one area there is no question in my mind. What would I prefer to have visible on my mobile phone.... an address book or a presence list of my buddies? The latter wins everytime.

    If the latter wins the form function changes. 0-9 becomes a relic. PDA's may be closer than we think to being tomorrows phones. Concurrently the customer might just be willing to make some new tradeoffs.

    PS I read in Wired tonight about databahn a Mobile T-1 $3995 plus $79 per month for 500KBS uplink and 3Mbps downlink. Interesting. I also saw this PDA?PC... OQO




    Comments (1)

    You are right, Stuart -- the 400Mhz processor is going to keep the test bed smaller. I bought my Pocket PC within the last 6 months and PocketSkype doesn't fully work with it. I can do IM though :)

    Posted by: TDavid at April 7, 2004 8:50 AM