This post is mostly a rant about Skype, the current state of VoIP solutions and proprietary solutions.
For quite a while I’ve owned an Android device. I don’t like proprietary solutions that force the customer into another’s hidden agenda. I don’t like proprietary solutions that change licensing or pricing unidirectionally without consensus. And I don’t like proprietary solutions that server a monitory instead of a majority. I use Skype because I make lot of calls to land lines in other countries. I haven’t been able to find any other VoIP provider that is easy to use and supports multiple devices (the only one close to this is Google Voice, but Google Voice is not yet available outside the US). They have PC software and software for iPhone and iPad, with little or no restrictions. But I am still waiting on Skype to release a native Android application for it (besides the existing one that only works on a very limited set of devices in the Verizon US wireless network).
I tried to come up with a non-imaginative, reliable solution to this. I tried Fring, but Fring does not support Skype anymore. I also tried Nimbuzz but Skype support does not work at all on Android Froyo (2.2). So the next natural thing to try was SIPdroid and SIP for Skype. Unfortunately, and contributing to my overall disappointment, SIP for Skype does not support subscriptions and, additionally, you have to run a business. Using SIP for Skype requires buying a channel subscription to allow for outbound calls (you will need as many channel subscriptions as simultaneous outbound calls you want to support), but channels do not support subscriptions, like unlimited calls to landlines, and they have their own credit line. When a Skype user places a call over SIP, the credit is withdrawn directly from the channel, and not from the user’s credit (the SIP credentials used are the channel’s not the user’s). Hence, even if the Skype user has a subscription plan, call to landlines will still have a variable cost.
Why does Skype limit support to Verizon US wireless network? Verizon Wireless states they have 70.8 million customers. The global wireless market, according to a research topped at 3.3 billion subscribers by the end of 2007. That means that Verizon was roughly 2.15% of the total mobile market at that time. Even if Android market share in the US is just a mere 9% according to Nielsen, it means there are lots of customers that are not on Verizon but using Android and still are incapable of using Skype.
So please, Skype, release Skype for Android now, with no artificial limitations based on some murky, strange and obscure requirements from the Telcos. And stop blaming other’s like Fring. No one else but Skype is damaging the Skype brand for not supporting all platforms, unrestrictedly. Remember that Skype makes money because of its customers, and not anyone else. Serving your customers should be Skype’s only mission.