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Skype May be Windows Phone’s Worst Enemy

May 07, 20123 mins
MicrosoftOperating SystemsSmartphones

Integrating a VoIP client into a mobile phone might not be the best way to win over the carriers.

It was always a mystery how Microsoft would juggle Skype, the VoIP audio and video conferencing software it purchased for $8.5 billion in October 2011, with its mobile phone product. Now that problem appears to be affecting Nokia.

Mobility blogger and author Tomi Ahonen reported on the Nokia shareholders meeting in Finland, and it sounded like a real barn burner. Or a real bad time for Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.

Citing a blog reader who was at the event in Espoo, Finland, Ahonen said “Elop had explained that Nokia, together with Microsoft, is now attempting to convince carriers/operators to accept Skype against their wills, by marketing/pricing/sales gimmicks. This admission says to me that the carriers are truly hostile towards Nokia about the matter and this negotiation attempt is futile.”

I have to admit, this seems contradictory to other reports, both in the New York Times and Reuters, which say that Verizon and AT&T are so fed up with Apple’s pushy behavior and leery of Android now that Google owns Motorola, they are ready to promote Windows Phone.

Whom to believe…

It’s questionable, since no Windows Phone devices have Skype pre-installed. Microsoft released Skype for Windows Phone 1.0 recently on the Windows Phone Marketplace, but it’s fairly weak. You can’t even run it in the background.

Elop admitted at the meeting that sales in most countries where the Lumia has launched are poor. Only its native Finland and the U.S. are showing good sales. In Europe, sales appear to be fizzling, and Skype is being blamed for carrier recalcitrance.

Elop was asked by a shareholder about the channel issues due to Skype, and Elop answered (according to this Finnish site) “If the operator doesn’t want us, it doesn’t want us. We will appeal to them with other arguments. We have more to offer to them. It is a good point to start the discussion from Skype.”

“This admission says to me that the carriers are truly hostile towards Nokia about the matter and this negotiation attempt is futile,” Ahonen wrote. To say he is anti-Elop would be an understatement on par with saying Steve Jobs had a temper; a severe understatement.

Obviously, he takes a European perspective on this, and we can’t afford to have just a U.S. view on things, because contrary to common opinion over here, the U.S. does not dictate the way the world goes. If foreign carriers are rejecting the Lumia specifically because of Skype, Microsoft has an $8.5 billion problem on its hands.

Andy Patrizio is a freelance journalist based in southern California who has covered the computer industry for 20 years and has built every x86 PC he’s ever owned, laptops not included.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ITworld, Network World, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.

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