Jon Arnold on eComm and Conferences
Russell Shaw R.I.P.

Changing of the Guard and Changing of the Game

iSkoot has recently gone through some management changes installing a new CEO and some other new executives including pal Jim Hudak, who was most recently with Mig33, a company about to see some turbulence at the top I'm hearing as their investors may be looking to make some moves to stabilize the imported company and bring in some proven leadership to support and really prop up the founders.

Over the last few weeks I've been keeping an eye on the development efforts at iSkoot and their foray into migrating their Skype calling application over to handsets that are based on the Symbian Series 60 platform, including my recently acquired Nokia E90.

It wasn't going to be hard to get my attention, as I was already hooked before the application got into beta, as I've been a convert ever since Truphone's Dean Elwood gifted me with Hutchison 3G 3SkypePhone in London that has made my visits to the center of commerce so much more enjoyable, if not more expensive as I now take more of the famed London Black cabs so I can be in touch with my staff at no cost using Skype on the SkypePhone versus the Tube.

While the Symbian offering from iSkoot doesn't mirror the 3 is Free for calling, though it does use the same alluring voice to let you know your call is being connected as the 3 service in the UK. It also drives carrier minute consumption by bridging the call through the iSkoot servers, thus it functions like client Mobivox by using a home brewed version of a Skype gateway to connect to Skype contacts. As such, this is not much different than what TalkPlus demonstrated over 16 months or so ago. Presence is maintained and you can text chat with them as well, as the app requires a data plan which I previously underused. Now its getting a workout.

The call quality in the USA over AT&T isn't as good as the 3 experience just yet, but this is BETA. My guess is the codecs aren't the same or its simply the AT&T network. While they're solid and easily cell quality, I'm not getting the wideband HD calling like experience that I receive in the UK.

For a beta release, the service works as advertised. I do however find fault that I have to use one of the Nokia's four function keys to chat, versus the return key on the E90, whose QWERTY keyboard makes this the perfect Skype on The Go Device, far better than the 3 Skypephone in my view.

If you like Skype and want it with you on the go, you may want to check out iSkoot's beta. They have more than just the Nokia E and N series ready, but make sure you have a data plan and Skype Out. This is not free, and it's not for everyone just yet. What it is though is a smart way to leverage a wide audience and begin to bring new services to market using OPPs--other people's pipes.


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