Skype mobile phone to hit shelves by Christmas

The VoIP provider is mobilizing its service in partnership with 3 Mobile.

Skype and 3 Mobile have launched a mobile phone that lets people make free Skype to Skype calls and send free instant messages to other users internationally.

The '3 Skypephone', which should hit Australian stores by Christmas, is a full featured 3 G mobile with Skype built in. The phone can also be used to access 3's other content services as well as make normal calls. It includes a two mega pixel camera, full skype functionality with contacts, call logos and presence, access to Java and 3D games, internet browsing and bluetooth.

The phone will retail for $179 to prepaid customers and is free to 3 customers on any cap or Talk Business plan. It comes with 4,000 minutes of free skype to skype calls and 10 000 free skype chat messages each month.

3 Mobile CEO Nigel Dews said in a press release that this exclusive partnership "challenges the traditional phone company view that dictates customers get charged for everything they do, with access to VoIP on the mobile being off limits."

Skype Asia Pacific's head of business development Chris Lewis said that Skype is taking what it led with the PC, to the mobile, through this deal.

"3 has always been a great challenger of the norm and has taken it a step further with the 3 Skypephone," he said.

The 3 Skypephone, available in white with a sky blue trim, white with a hot pink trim and black, is also launching in the UK, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy and Sweden.

The handset was developed by Skype, in partnership with Qualcomm, using Qualcomm's BREW platform, which enables Skype to work with core features such as address book and messaging.

Skype currently has 3 million registered users in Australia and 246 million worldwide.

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