Lots of chatter on twitter about Skype launching an application for the Apple iPhone this week. Looks good until you see that the application only works with the wifi capability on the phone, not the 3G network. And although you can see whether your Skype friends are on-line (so you can phone them for free), if they are using another messaging system, then you're out of luck.
At DLD in Munich I met Geraldine Wilson from Truphone and she explained how their application goes one stage further, solving the problems above. You can call a anyone (including a Skype contact ) on Truphone when out of range of the Wi-Fi using what they call Truphone Anywhere. The same system is also IM agnostic, so it supports most of the popular instant messaging clients. The Truphone Anywhere service is able to make calls when not in Wi-Fi by routing the first leg of the call over the cellular network (not data over 3G) and then taking the call from there over Truphone's network, allowing consumers to make international calls at for next to nothing while on the move and out of Wi-Fi. The cost of the call will simply be a local call with a network operator (in my case already part of the contracted bundled minutes) and then the Truphone rate to the country being called.