Earlier today, the mobile phone giant, Nokia announced that Skype for it’s Symbian smartphones is now available for free download in its OVI store. Mobile users can now use 3G or Wi-Fi connections to call each other for ‘free’ without needing to route the call through mobile operators.
This is a big game changer for mobile operators. Charging subscribers for call minutes is getting harder and harder to justify and this just another nail in the regular calls’ coffin.
Econet though seems to have seen this coming. It has been heavily investing in reinventing itself into a data career (aka ISP). Just last week, it launched it’s fibre network project and promised to make it available to other service providers in the future. Econet founder, Strive Masiyiwa, sums it up in the YouTube video – “As an operator our basic responsiblity and task, is build a network and to provide coverage and connectivity to as many people as possible. That is the instruction we give to our executives.”
Locally, Nokia phones amount for the bulk of handsets on the market (Actually, G-Tide’s popularity makes this hard to say with certainty) so the changes will not be too hard to see. This is not entirely new news. We reported last month that a lot of Econet subscribers have found ways and means to make free Skype calls, albeit through 3rd party mobile apps like Nimbuzz. Still, this native Skype makes it all so much easier and seamless. You can exchange files, and do instant messaging too. A clean solution for those SMSes that report ‘delivered’ but never get to the recipient.
Again, free is only free if you pay a flat monthly fee for your 3G. Econet is currently on the flat plan, but like we pointed out last year, this is one of the chief reasons they suspended new subscriptions. For the early birds that got connected before the suspension, please know, this $25 flat plan is most likely in its last days.
If you’ve an Econet data-enabled line and your phone is one of the following Nokias, you can start Skyping right now:
N97, N97 mini, X6, 5800 XpressMusic, 5530, E72, E71, E90, E63, E66, E51, N96, N95, N95 8Gb, N85, N82, N81, N81 8 Gb, N79, N78, 6220 classic, 6210 Navigator and 5320.
According to the Nokia statement, Skype will soon introduce this client to Symbian mobile devices from other manufacturers, including Sony Ericsson.