Verizon smartphones to get Skype app

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Verizon Wireless and Skype announced a partnership Tuesday to bring the Internet calling service to nine of the carrier's 3G smartphones beginning in March.

With the free Skype Mobile application, Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) smartphone users can make and receive unlimited free calls to other users who have Skype.

They can also use it to call any international phone number at Skype's standard rates, which are much lower than Verizon's international wireless calling rates. Calls abroad through Skype start at 2.1 cents per minute, and monthly unlimited packages are also available. The app will also let Skype users exchange instant messages.

"With any partnership, we're looking to do what our consumers want. In this case, they asked for Skype to be untethered from their PCs," Skype's chief executive, Josh Silverman, told CNNMoney.com.

Skype Mobile will be available on nine of Verizon's 3G smartphones: Research in Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry Storm, Storm 2, Curve 8330, Curve 8530, 8830 World Edition, and Tour 9630; Motorola's (MOT, Fortune 500) Droid and Devour; and HTC's Droid Eris.

The Verizon Skype calls will travel over both the Internet and wireless voice technology, but they won't be counted against customers' voice or data plans, according to a Verizon spokeswoman.

The spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the Skype deal would cannibalize Verizon's own, more expensive calling plans, and would not disclose the financial terms of the partnership.

"It's more about giving our 91 million customers a great mobile experience through a really cool custom application," she said.

Skype CEO Silverman said that while he could not comment on Verizon specifically, international calls are a small part of revenue for most carriers.

"What [carriers] care about is acquiring new customers and really helping them understand the great value of what their smartphones can do," he said.

Skype now has 520 million users and is adding more than 300,000 a day, according to Silverman. In 2009, 12% of all international calling minutes were made through Skype, he said, up from 8% in 2008.

"This is a huge milestone for Skype, and we're looking to keep launching apps and creating more partnerships," Silverman said. "We're just a six-year-old company and we are definitely looking to expand." To top of page

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