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Skype's Verizon deal spells 'BlackBerry'

Skype's deal with Verizon means that the VoIP app will finally come to BlackBerry smartphones. At least to those on Verizon.

Skype on BlackBerry

BlackBerry users have been waiting patiently for years, really, for Skype to release a version of its VoIP client for BlackBerry smartphones. If that's you, you're in luck. On Tuesday, Skype announced at the Mobile World Congress a partnership with Verizon that will bring a 3G-capable Skype app to Verizon smartphones. That includes several BlackBerrys, like the Curve, both Storms, and Tour.

The BlackBerry faithful have heard similar teases before, and indeed, Skype for BlackBerry has been in closed beta for some time. Now, at least, there's a date attached to the release, March 2010. We guesstimate that Skype and Verizon will roll out the app in time for the CTIA conference in Las Vegas in late March.

We're hazy on the details--if Skype's Verizon offering will be pushed to phones or available in a mobile storefront, if Skype for mobile will come preloaded on smartphones in the future, or if it will extend to regular feature phones, and so on. Both companies have promised to fill in the sketch with more information in March.

What we do know is that 3G smartphone users with data plans will be able to make Skype calls, use competitive calling rates to international landlines (using Skype Out), and IM other Skype users.

Calling and messaging are the standard basic capabilities in Skype's feature set, but what is interesting, apart from granting BlackBerry (and Android) users their long-awaited Skype app, is the fact that the deal will automatically put Skype in front of a growing batch of Verizon's smartphone users. This is a healthy distribution plan for Skype, and a low-risk option for Verizon, which can use Skype to support a form of free or low-cost international calling while still collecting customers' monthly all-you-can-eat data subscriptions.