Come summer, we might not know the difference between calls on/from Skype and calls on AT&T’s cell network (assuming 3G coverage doesn’t act like a schizoid escapee from a mental institution. Big assumption there). Think about it — no more counting minutes. No more waiting for evenings or weekends to have those long chats with Mom.
And If there’s no difference on an iPhone between gabbing via Skype and gabbing via a cell link, it gives the iPhone a massive advantage over other handhelds without the feature. Which means they’ll need to compete, and will end up adding the feature — and there goes Ma Bell’s ballgame; complete pandemonium as the telcom giants rethink their business strategy.
Owners of AT&T accounts with massive minute-allowance will immediately downgrade. Businesses will save hundreds, thousand or hundreds of thousands by outfitting iPhones (or other, similarly equipped devices) to employees with heavy phone habits. The effect? Probably the gradual move away from traditional cell-based communication to one where everything — voice communication included gets lumped together as data traffic.
Another first for Apple, if what we saw today was, if not the first nail, at least a sizable chunk of the coffin sealed shut on paying an extra surcharge, just to talk.