Recently I detailed how a single device - the iPhone changed the fortunes of AT&T Wireless. Every wireless carrier is looking for a way to have that one amazing gadget that drives traffic and reduces churn. But what if another way to achieve a similar goal is to enable free Skype calling on your network? It may sound stupid that I would suggest such a thing but Skype execs argue that you generate more revenue by Skype-enabling your wireless network than you do by blocking it. So far 3 UK seems to be one of the leading wireless carriers actively touting unlimited free Skype to Skype calling on their network for less than the price of a cup of coffee as they put it.
But what if this move by the carrier is the equivalent of getting a killer gadget that everyone wants?
I find that there is tremendous irony in this concept because recently AT&T went on record saying Skype is a competitor which of course they are. But what if Skype is right and allowing its usage on your network - even if you are AT&T will reduce churn and increase ARPU? And what if AT&T loses the lock on the iPhone it has now? Can you see a world where AT&T is forced to allow Skype use to get customers back? I can.
But while they have iPhone exclusivity this won't happen. It will be very interesting to watch if other wireless carriers decide to become more Skype friendly in the mean time and whether or not AT&T throws an olive branch to Skype or even buys a few shares of their potential IPO.