Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Skype, the missing iPhone widget

I had been awaiting yesterday's keynote announcement of the iPhone eagerly. The iPhone goes much beyond what are my ideal cellphone specs. But the iPhone is not just a cellphone of course. It might be proof out to be the ideal mobile device: Newton-revamped, mini-laptop, smart cellphone. (The Sony PSP had a lot of potential, beyond being a gaming device. Yet Sony never completed the vision.)

The iPhone price is of course steep: $499 for 4GB device, $599 for the 8GB device. I have a suspicion you will need the 8GB device. Not so much to hold your songs, but to store the video, and internet data. What will be the determining factor is not the price Apple charges for the device, but the price Cingular will charge for the voice and data services. Unlimited data transfer is currently $45/month. And voice services go from $40/month up to well above $100/month. So, you will be paying about $100/month for service on the iPhone. Ouch!

This brings me to the missing iPhone widget: Skype. The iphone is both cellphone and internet device. A Skype widget would integrate the address book, smart browsing feature with Skype's voice over IP. Whenever connected to the WIFI, Skype can be the choice for voice communication. And even when on the Edge network, you should be able to enable Skype as the first choice for voice. With a Skype widget you only have to subscribe to Cingular's data services, with an optional Pay-as-you-Go voice service. The widget would give Netgear's Skype WIFI phone some tough competition. I doubt Apple will upset its partner, Cingular. But an open developer toolkit might recruit enough developers. Ebay, are you paying attention?


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