Our first thought when we heard that eBay’s (EBAY) Internet phone company Skype was making an app for Google’s (GOOG) Android mobile phones: Yikes, wonder what Android carrier T-Mobile (DT) thinks of that. Turns out, it’s less of a threat than we thought.
Skype for Android works differently than Skype on your computer: It uses your mobile phone’s voice feature — and your calling minutes — to make a call, and then it routes the rest of the call over the Internet.
This means that you might not have to pay international long distance if you call Peru or Portugal, but you will still have to budget your T-Mobile minutes wisely. (We doubt that T-Mobile makes a significant amount of its revenue from overseas long distance.)
So while Skype has been a thorn in the side of phone companies across the world — millions of people have used it to make free or cheap phone calls instead of paying for calls using a phone line — it’s less of a threat to mobile carriers in its current state.
At some point, we expect this will change — if Skype wants to be truly useful for mobile phone users, it’s going to have to help us skirt our calling allotments. But we suppose it’ll be useful for some people already, especially those who call overseas frequently.