Skype Cell Phone To Launch At The End Of October - InformationWeek

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10/18/2007
02:44 PM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
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Skype Cell Phone To Launch At The End Of October

According to a report from BusinessWeek, VoIP service Skype will be available on an IP-powered cell phone offered by carrier 3 in the U.K., Italy, Hong Kong, and Australia in "late October." Holy VoIP, Batman, it's a full-IP mobility.

According to a report from BusinessWeek, VoIP service Skype will be available on an IP-powered cell phone offered by carrier 3 in the U.K., Italy, Hong Kong, and Australia in "late October." Holy VoIP, Batman, it's a full-IP mobility.Here is a look at the Skype Phone:

Bit by bit, big names in the computing world are barging into the cell-phone business. First came Apple's game-changing iPhone. Next came word that Google is creating its own software platform for a new breed of cell phones. Now Skype, which popularized free and cheap phone calls over the Internet, is set to launch a customized cell phone developed jointly with 3 Mobile, a wireless carrier in Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Code-named the "white phone," the Skype handset will be introduced by late October in Britain, Italy, Hong Kong, and Australia, and will reach 3's other five markets later, BusinessWeek has learned. There are no immediate plans to bring the device to North America, though the companies may try to license it to other carriers or sell versions straight to consumers for them to use on other networks.

That's far from all. Here is a look at some of the features the Skype Phone will sport:

The Skype cell phone, developed with a software outfit named iSkoot, is equipped with multimedia capabilities and high-speed data for mobile Web browsing. But its most prominent feature is a big button right above the regular keypad to activate Skype's popular service for long-distance and international calls. A press on that button triggers an iSkoot-developed application that brings up a list of a user's Skype "buddies" and regular phone contacts. A click on any entry in that list dials the call.

Skype Phone calls will cost the same as they do on Skype's regular Web phone service. Skype users will be able to call each other for free -- using just their Skype IDs. Calling those with regular POTS phone numbers will cost Skype Phone users Skype's normal rates.

The Skype Phone has huge potential to disrupt the wireless industry. Not only will it offer users cut-rate mobile long distance (for those who use regular phone numbers), the Skype Phone will allow users the chance to talk for free for hours on end over Skype for nothing more than the cost of monthly access from 3. In fact, the Skype Phone could turn out to be the kind of disruptive device people have been anticipating in the gPhone.

3 has been offering 3G-only cell phone service for over four years. While the rest of the mobile carriers are fighting to keep their stranglehold on their spectrum and their rapidly aging business models, 3, which has not been that a big hit to date, is hoping that a truly device can help it achieve breakout success.

On the other side of the equation Skype and its parent, eBay, are struggling to turn Skype into a business worthy of the billions of dollars eBay kicked down for Skype a few years ago.

Nokia, are you looking at Skype a little more seriously now?

What do you think? Will the Skype Phone turn the wireless industry on its head? Or will it be nothing more than a flash in the pan?

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
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