Based: Cambridge, MA
Why it's Fierce: Just as the legacy phone industry has adjusted painfully to VoIP, the mobile industry is grappling with how to adjust to wireless VoIP. Its proliferation is inevitable, especially given Sprint Nextel's desire to keep the Internet open when it launches WiMAX technology in the next two years. iSkoot aims to do in the mobile world what Skype has done in the fixed broadband world. In fact, Skype is using iSkoot to reach the mobile community. In recent months, iSkoot has entered into a co-marketing and development partnership with Skype and landed its first mobile carrier for its Skype-to-mobile service with The 3 Group in the U.K., which shifted its 3G focus to an open Internet model. iSkoot also targeted its PC-to-mobile plug-in at Skype's PC-based VoIP service, and the iSkoot client software was certified by Skype earlier this year. In short, iSkoot's value proposition is enabling mobile Skype calls to increase mobile carriers' ARPU by leveraging PC calls to bring new minutes onto the mobile network. Today, iSkoot's free software solution works on a select number of Motorola, Nokia and Palm devices. The company's technology enables VoIP over three different network connections, WiFi which is typically free, 3G/GPRS data which typically is offered for a fixed monthly charge and GSM/CDMA voice which typically is billed by the local-minute. The service is fixed-mobile convergence without the heavy costs.
What to look for: Look for iSkoot to continue to expand its capabilities, increasing the models of devices that can download the software. While the U.S. market mobile is notoriously closed, expect to see some cracks emerging with carriers' willingness to partner with iSkoot. Sprint Nextel and AT&T are our bets for loosening up their grips on the network.