Skype to launch handset for UK

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Although there has been no official announcement, my sources say it’s a done deal that Skype will launch a mobile handset with UK operator Three this month.

BusinessWeek is also claiming that the mobile will also launch in Italy, Hong Kong, and Australia, with the five remaining territories for Three after that. There appear to be no plans to launch the mobile in the US, which makes sense since most of their creaking mobile networks would probably melt under the data crunch as Skype mobile would require a 3G network, rare in the US.

iSkoot, which makes a mobile version of Skype is said to be making the handset, which will have multimedia capabilities and high-speed data for mobile Web browsing to suit Three’s 3G network. A dedicated button will activates Skype’s service for long-distance and international calls and display Skype buddies. Three won’t charge extra to use the Skype feature but customers will be required to spend a certain amount per month in overall tariff.

The only other question remains – how game-changing is this? Three already offers the X-Series handsets with Skype coming bundled with the handset. Perhaps this new handset will make the whole concept more overt for customers and give Three a marketing edge on the other networks? It’s hard to say, and the Skype tie-in so far hasn’t exactly been market-changing.

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