Can Skype Revive KDDI’s Fortunes in Japan?

It may not be so obvious why a Japanese mobile phone carrier would want to make Skype available on its handsets and encourage subscribers to use the Internet-based telephony service. Plus, you can already use Skype on iPhones by downloading the application…so isn’t this an old idea?

But Japan’s KDDI Corp. is embracing Skype nonetheless. By teaming up with Luxemburg-based Skype Technologies S.A., Japan’s second largest mobile carrier plans to make the Skype software available on many of its handsets released from now on, starting with its smartphones.

So how does a Skype partnership make sense?

For one thing, Japanese people are no longer making many calls on mobile handsets. To offset lower voice traffic, carriers are seeking ways to boost revenue from data traffic. If Skype can get people to buy smartphones and sign up for expensive data service plans, that could more than compensate for dwindling revenue from traditional phone calls.

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