Skype me! – Truphone adds Skype to iPhone

With the launch of Skype integration, Truphone’s mobile VoIP service is fast becoming a unified client for other VOIP and messaging services. As well as the ability to make low-cost calls over Wi-Fi or GSM networks and send cheap SMS, it is now supporting Skype and other messaging services via its application for the iPhone or iTouch. The software comes out on Jan. 12, at which point you’ll be able to make and receive Skype calls and IM to other Skype users. Truphone has also added full two-way instant messaging over MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk on the iPod touch as of now and on Jan. 12 for the iPhone. Admittedly you can already use Fring or Nimbuzz iPhone apps to access Skype, but neither of these also integrate VOIP or GSM voice calls as seamlessly. Truphone has already added Twitter integration.

Clearly the idea of all these new services is to keep users inside the Truphone app for longer and thus garner more revenues from users making calls over their Truphone account [For current Truphone call rates, see here]. However, the introduction of Skype calling will likely be a double-edged sword for Truphone. People may stay in the app for longer, but Truphone won’t make any revenues out of its users using Skype. In addition it remains the case that Truphone won’t run inthe background, so you really do have to keep the app open all the time if you are waiting for a Skype call. Still, it’s a welcome new feature and strong incentive for people to download the app in the first place.

In December, Truphone re-vamped its iPhone app with two crucial new features. The first, dubbed Truphone Anywhere enables iPhone users to make low-priced international calls via the GSM network even when they are not connected to Wi-Fi. Prior to this you needed WiFi. The second is that inbound Truphone calling on the iPhone was added. In addition Truphone are able to indicate ‘presence’, as in ‘available’ or not.

The new year sees Truphone hunkering down for the economic downturn. Last year CEO James Tagg moved downwards to Chief Architect. New CEO Geraldine Wilson was brought in from Yahoo’s mobile division to shake up the company and set it on a more commercial path. They also moved from plush offices overlooking London’s Tower Bridge, to more spartan offices nearby. Truphone has £31.5m funding.