Verizon Wireless will launch its much-anticipated service allowing Skype users to call each other for free through the carrier's mobile network this week.
At a press event on Tuesday, John Harrobin, vice president of digital media and marketing for Verizon Wireless, announced the carrier would launch a Skype mobile application on Thursday that can be either downloaded or pushed to nine smartphones offered by Verizon (including several BlackBerrys, the Droid and the new Devour from Motorola). The application will allow free unlimited Skype-to-Skype calling and instant messaging, Harrobin said.
"These calls do not hit against monthly minutes or data packages," he said. In addition, the application will run in the background of the phones, showing a Skype user's availability whether that user is logged on via the computer or cell phone. "It truly un-tethers the Skype experience," Harrobin said. "[It] means you never have to make an appointment or miss a call."
The Skype mobile application (available for free) will also allow calls to international landlines and other mobile phones using special "Skype Credits" available for purchase from Verizon Wireless. "This is a transformative experience for our customers," Russ Shaw, the general manager of mobile for Skype, said during the event. "This will transform the way current users and new users of Skype use the mobile space."
The executives did not disclose marketing plans behind the service -- although Verizon would likely want to hype the functionality of its exclusive Skype Mobile application, if only to differentiate from other applications on other carriers. "Skype Mobile is an exclusive application to Verizon Wireless," Harrobin said. "The features and functionality that you'll see here, you won't see anywhere else. It will be the best Skype mobile experience available."
"This is going to drive greater customer engagement -- or stickiness -- between Skype and Verizon and the overall experience," Shaw added. "We are strongly going to recommend it to all of our customers in the U.S."