RealTime IT News

Skype With a Phone

UPDATED: A Danish electronics company announced yet another way Skype fans can choose between Internet-based or traditional phone calls.

The DualPhone 3088, available Dec. 1, is the latest handset erasing the need for a computer, according to RTX Products.

DualPhone 3088
DualPhone 3088.
Source: DualPhone

The handset, priced at US$206, is compatible with both traditional wired telephony and Skype-based Internet calls. An always-on broadband connection is required.

The DualPhone goes on sale in Europe and through Skype's online store. The announcement follows an earlier one by Netgear, which unveiled a Skype-compatible wireless phone at this year's Consumer Electronics show.

With a color screen, the device offers 10 hours of talk time and 140 hours of standby.

The news is further sign Skype is trying new things, said Will Stofega, VoIP analyst with IDC. While analysts believe Skype is popular, few feel they can point to reliable numbers. Skype said its free software has been downloaded 100 million times.

"Those download numbers don't mean anything," Lynda Starr, a Frost & Sullivan senior analyst said. Starr said there are 7.8 million worldwide users -- 3 million of whom are paying customers. Starr said the U.S. market is likely the smallest region for Skype, with just 300,000 paying customers.

A real benchmark would be how many subscribe to Skype's pay services, SkypeIn or SkypeOut, Stofega said. The IDC analyst is preparing a report on Skype to be released in December.

Stofega said the deep pockets of eBay allows Skype to escape the need for a different business model.

While it is difficult to determine the level of Skype's success, the Internet phone service is very clearly having an impact. Skype has become as common as instant messaging in enterprises. However, the application still needs to gain legitimacy for greater company adoption, according to Stofega.