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Summary:

Have the real first steps towards a cellular voice replacement been taken? At this week’s Mobile World Congress, Nokia announced a deal that puts Skype on the new Nokia N97 handset by the third quarter of this year. Sony Ericsson will also be offering a Skype […]

nokia-n97-skypeHave the real first steps towards a cellular voice replacement been taken? At this week’s Mobile World Congress, Nokia announced a deal that puts Skype on the new Nokia N97 handset by the third quarter of this year. Sony Ericsson will also be offering a Skype panel on the Xperia X1 within the next few weeks.

We’ve long been able to put Skype on handhelds — no, I haven’t forgotten that. Who could forget listening to the other side of the conversation through the loudspeaker of a Pocket PC? This isn’t just about the ability to use Skype on new phones. It’s about the integration of Skype on a voice handset.

Take the Nokia news, for example. You’ll be able to look up contacts in your N97 address book and see their Skype status. From here, you can call them over Wi-Fi or 3G on Skype or start a text chat with them. No longer is Skype simply an “add-on.” It becomes a integrated part of the voice and text communications in your phone.

Webware makes the excellent point that here in the U.S., Skype embedded this much into handsets will face a challenge. Not from consumers, but from the carriers already scrapping for whatever market share they can grab and keep. The two handsets mentioned, Nokia’s N97 and Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X1, will sell far more units outside of the U.S., so both make excellent choices for Skype to move beyond a simple voice add-on. And if you had any hopes of a U.S. carrier ever subsidizing either of these high-end handsets, you’re likely to be on hold. Forever.

Jim Courtney’s new “Voice on the Web” site offers a solid list of pros and cons on this news, as well as some insightful questions yet to be answered. I highly recommend his post, and new blog, if you’re interested in Skype and other other voice-over-IP info!

  1. there’s actually a few skype branded handsets a released a few years back in other countries (UK and Australia at least).

    Additionally, Hutchinson companies (3, orange etc) advertise Skype packages for handsets including in similar regions too.

    But having this level of integration (which certainly wasn’t on previous handsets) would be fantastic! I’d love to see it with other IM clients too. Would be quite useful and a lot of fun for me.

  2. Nice but this should be done at the OS level. Microsoft needs to provide a proper audio framework on Windows Mobile. Does WM6.5 have one?

  3. I just can’t stop raving about the $10 T-Mobile UMA plan. Melissa’s new Blackberry (8900) gets unlimited VoIP/WiFi calling for $10. And that $10 also includes computer access to all T-Mo HotSpot locations (like Starbucks). Of course, I don’t think many people know about this. Whereas Skype has high brand awareness (amongst the geeky). What’s up with TruPhone. Have they let people call landlines yet from the iPhone?

  4. Has anyone used GIZMO5? it is on my NOKIA N82 and is the best VOIP i have ever used. it is built into phone. the phone actually lists it as an option when you are trying to make a call as “internet call”

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