Skype To Release Wi-Fi Handset
The handset, made by NetGear, will work with any WiFi connection, and marks the first device that will be able to use Skype outside of a PC. Skype, one of the first entrants into the voice-over-IP space, this month announced that all PC-to-phone calls in the United States and Canada would be free until 2007--meaning that Skype users would only be charged for international calls.
Slated for release in July, the handset will run $250, and will only work with wireless connections--it will not be connected to a cell network. The interface will be set up to resemble the PC-based Skype program.
According to Jon Arnold, independent VoIP analyst, Skype's move onto mobile handsets comes at an opportune time, as larger competitors like Google and Yahoo are moving into the VoIP space that Skype pioneered. "Skype's biggest challenge is that they've been largely PC-based," he said. "That kind of puts them square into the market of the Google and Yahoos of the world, who are getting more and more aggressive in bringing voice to the market."
Arnold said that allowing users to make use of Skype in any wireless zone will allow the service to gain wider acceptance and usage--especially with city Wi-Fi projects springing up around the nation, such as EarthLink's bids to build systems in San Francisco and Philadelphia. "This gives people much more of a reason to use Skype in a conventional way," he said. "There's going be a lot of activity to provide end points to support this. You've got these urban Wi-Fi buildups beginning to happen, and in those zones, you really only need a Wi-Fi handset--you're talking about cheap communication, not universal communication."