Sales of new Wi-Fi mobile handsets that use Skype software and do not require a PC to make calls are gaining momentum ahead of the holidays, companies report.
The Wi-Fi mobile phones are rousing interest for two reasons: the low cost of using Skype services to make calls, and the fact that people can use them more like a traditional mobile phone, without the aid of a PC. Skype, for example, is offering the WSKP100 by SMC Networks in a package on its website that includes the handset, a Wi-Fi router, 500 minutes of calls to regular mobile phones and landlines (SkypeOut) and 12 months of Skype voice mail for 99 pounds (US$196).
“Sales are going great so far,” said Brian Nickell, product manager at SMC Networks. He said SMC is currently selling its Wi-Fi Skype handset, the WSKP100, in North America, Europe and Asia, and the company will release more local language models soon.
The Chinese language version of the handset became available Tuesday in Taiwan. Users can download a firmware upgrade at SMC’s Taiwan website.
The SMC model is identical to the VM1185T by Accton Technology and the F1PP000GN-SK by Belkin International for a reason. SMC is the U.S. marketing subsidiary of Accton, which developed the Wi-Fi handset.
The Taiwanese company reported that its overall sales in November rose 13 percent over October thanks to the handset, a sign users may find them in their stockings this holiday season. The company’s November sales reached New Taiwanese $1.38 billion (US$42.7 million), up from NT$1.22 billion in October, it said Tuesday.
The Wi-Fi handset offers Skype voice-over-IP (VoIP) software, and features such as 802.11b/g compatibility with added security features to keep conversations private. Users can use the handsets anywhere they can access Skype services, such as Wi-Fi networks at Starbucks coffee shops or on college campuses. It automatically searches for Wi-Fi signals.
The SMC and Belkin versions of the handset can be found at reseller shops for about $190.
Danish firm RTX recently announced that its DualPhone 3088, which functions with Skype and doesn’t require any PC connection, is available in Europe for about $200.
-Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service (Taipei Bureau)
(CIO Online News Writer Al Sacco contributed to this report.)
Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.