Skype today launched a plan to bring its VoIP calling service to more smartphones and feature phones.
Its Mobile Partner Program targets mobile carriers operating in markets with weak 3G bandwidth. Skype is offering a partnership in which carriers preload the Skype communications app onto phones.
Partner carriers benefit from differentiating phones in their roster with a Skype app, and users win by getting free calls to other Skype users, and calls at lower rates to friends and family abroad.
Count on the apps we're likely to see as being functional for making calls, but rather limited in other regards. In Skype's own words, "The versions of Skype delivered through this program are optimised (sic.) for efficient bandwidth usage..." We expect the apps to be light and lean, rather than visually rich and dripping with features.
Skype's courting of carriers isn't new. In the U.S., a similar Skype Mobile app launched in 2010 for select Verizon smartphones.