Skype lands on Nokia smartphones, but iPhone still to come

Mobile World Congress Barcelona | They seem like the oddest of bedfellows – a VoIP service for making low-cost phone calls and high-end mobile phones sold by carriers eager to rack up the call revenue. But at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Skype announced it would deliver a mobile client for selected Nokia and Sony Ericsson smartphones.

Of course it’s a boon for the tech-savvy travellers who rely on smartphones but must too often wrestle with sky-high charges for global roaming. Skype’s first foray with the Finish phone supremo will be to bake its software onto Nokia’s N-series phones starting with the flagship Nokia N97 in by year’s end.

Skype will be  be preloaded onto Nokia’s forthcoming N97 and integrated into the smartphone’s address book

The N97’s address book will be enhanced to show the Skype address and online status of each contact and offer Skype’s IM facility as an alternative to making a voice call. Meanwhile Sony Ericsson will also be adding a Skype “panel” for its Windows Mobile-powered Xperia X1.

However the question has to be asked: will carriers as part of their ‘customisation’ of the device demand that the Skype client be stripped out of the firmware image?

The deals with Nokia and Sony Ericsson add to the roster of Skype-friendly platforms which now includes the Skype Lite offering for Java devices including Android handsets.

But let’s be honest: the one everyone is waiting for is Skype for the iPhone which was expected to be the topic of today’s press conference.

One could almost hear the disappointed exhalation of the assembled journalists when Skype president Josh Silverman’s announcement of the Nokia partnership wasn’t followed by “one more thing”. But we all know that a Skype app for the iPhone is on the way it’s just a question of when.

Until the real deal arrives iPhone owners will have to rely on the third-party (and US$10) IM+ for Skype app

In the meantime you can always grab Shape Services’ IM+ for Skype which delivers the Skype experience on the iPhone for US$10.

David Flynn is attending Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as a guest of Microsoft