In a joint press conference today, Verizon and Skype announced that Skype has created a mobile app exclusively for Verizon smart phones. Starting in March, the app will allow users to make Skype calls, often free, in lieu of using voice minutes.
The client will be available to owners of select RIM phones: BlackBerry Storm, Storm 2, Curve 8330, Curve 8530, 8830 World Edition and the Tour 9630. It will also be available on such Android devices as the Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Eris, and Motorola Devour.
The last leg of these Skype calls will be routed through Verizon’s circuit switchboard, which means they’re technically not on the data network, but the voice network. However, these calls will not dig into the minutes that users purchase with their voice plans. Calls and instant messages to other Skype users are free; for international calls, Skype’s typical (and reasonable) fees apply.
The announcement comes at a time when ISPs and carriers aren’t nearly done pondering to what extent users should be charged for using unequal amounts of bandwidth. Verizon’s decision to allow unlimited Skype calls, and at a potential loss, certainly falls on the liberal end of that debate.
Verizon won’t necessarily lose too much money, though: it’s still requiring smartphone owners to purchase a voice plan.