Nokia's smartphones get Skype client

Skype is also working hard on a client for Android-based smartphones

Skype and Nokia have released a new Skype client for the Symbian mobile OS.

The free client, which will initially work with about 20 phones from the Finnish phone maker, can be downloaded from Nokia's Ovi Store. It will let users make free Skype-to-Skype calls, send instant messages and share files, including photos, via a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection. Users can also use the client to cut costs for sending SMS (Short Message Service) messages to phones abroad.

Nokia and Skype have developed different clients for Nokia phones that have a touchscreen, including the Nokia N97 mini and the new X6, and those that use regular buttons, including the E72. But the functionality is the same on both clients.

Since the client uses a mobile data connection, Skype recommends the use of an unlimited data plan. Phone calls, on average, use between 8K bps (bits per second) and 20K bps, according to Jean-Jacques Sahel, director for government and regulatory affairs at Skype in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Skype will soon introduce versions of the clients for Symbian smartphones from other manufacturers, including Sony Ericsson, it said. Developing a client for Android is also a top priority, according to company spokesman Paul De Lara, but there is no launch date yet.

How mobile operators view Skype is changing for the better, according to Sahel. A recently announced relationship with Verizon Wireless is proof of that. However, there are still operators in the U.K, France, Spain and Germany that either prohibit subscribers from using it or charge "discriminatory" extra fees, Sahel said.

But Sahel is optimistic that these operators will eventually start treating Skype traffic like any other data. Hopefully, when Skype comes to Cebit next year it won't have to talk about the issue anymore, Sahel said.

On Thursday, Russ Shaw, general manager for Mobile at Skype, will give a talk at Cebit on how operators can make more money by working with and not against Skype.

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