iSkoot has kind of a unique thing going on, enabling users to to place telephone calls over the Internet using mobile phones. Today, iSkoot got a big lift from VoIP gitant Skype, with the two companies entering into a co-marketing arrangement to promote iSkoot to mobile phone makers as a way to enable their users to access Skype VoIP capabilities.
Under the agreement, Skype will certify iSkoot’s mobile technology for placing and receiving Skype calls on a moble phone, and enable Skype customer to download iSkoot from Skype’s Web site for installation on compatible Java-enabled phones and smartphones. Once installed, iSkoot enables users to have the same Skype features on their mobile phone that they’re accustomed to seeing on their computers (including their Skype buddy lists and availability) without having to be at their computers, or using a Skype-compatible standalone device from a WiFi hotspot. In other words, their mobile phones suddenly gain all Skype’s capabilities—although, of course, mobile and cellular data transfer charges are likely to apply, in addition to any charges for using Skype services.
When an iSkoot user place a call to a Skype contact, iSkoot dials a standard voice number corresponding to an iSkoot gateway server, which then routes the call data to the Skype user via VoIP. The iSkoot service is currently only available to U.S. users (although they can place calls worldwide), but will launch in Europe and Asia later this month. Currently, use of the mobile-to-VoIP gateway is free, although the company eventually plans to charge flat-rate access fees.
As part of the agreement, Skype will market the iSkoot application to mobile network operators, and work with mobile handset makers to pre-install iSkoot on qualifying mobile phones. Eventually, iSkoot service could turn up as part of mobile calling plans.