Piggybacking on Skype

A Cambridge, Mass., startup has introduced software to broaden the already
considerable reach of Internet phone phenomenon Skype.

iSkoot’s software, which is designed to appeal to frequent international
callers, allows users to connect their regular cell phones to Skype’s
service and buddy lists.

The application automatically forwards VoIP calls from the PC to a mobile
phone. It also can switch a VoIP call from the PC to a mobile phone without
disconnecting, the company said. For outgoing calls, it acts as a bridge
between the mobile phone, the PC, and the call recipient’s VoIP phone.

“We see Skype as a really important ecosystem leader and a powerful
trendsetter,” Jacob Guedalia, iSkoot CEO, told internetnews.com.

iSkoot’s offering is possible because Skype opened its application
program interface a couple of months ago, encouraging
independent developers to build add-ons for the Skype platform.

“iSkoot is using the Skype API , and at this point we don’t have
any additional details except to applaud their creative approach and initial
success,” Kelly Larabee, a Skype spokeswoman, said.

Skype, which is based in Europe, has more than 40 million subscribers and is
looking for ways to enhance its service. For example,
it’s testing a
video calling service.

While initially looking to appeal to Skype users, versions of iSkoot are
planned for other platforms and buddy systems, including AIM, Yahoo and
Microsoft services, as well as for Mac systems.

iSkoot is offering a 30-day free trial from its Web site. After that, users pay $9.95
annually for unlimited use.

Guedalia, who has founded and sold three telecom-related startups, said
downloads have been surprisingly strong since they became available Monday,
but he wouldn’t specify the number.

There are other startups looking to solve the same problem as iSkoot,
Guedalia said, although they require users to buy new hardware or handsets.

The privately held, venture-backed company was officially founded in
May and has less than a dozen employees, most of them engineers. Guedalia,
whose brother David is iSkoot’s CTO and vice president of research, said the
company is gearing up for expansion.

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