At Skype’s CES 2007 press conference this morning, there were three major announcements:
- Confirmation of the partnership with Nokia whereby the initial offering will result in Skype as the centerpiece for handling Internet-enabled conversations on the new Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. While the N800 is available today, the Skype participation will be an upgrade expected in the early summer timeframe.
- Initial availability via retail channels of the first “PC-free” Skype Dual Mode Cordless Phones which require a direct broadband Internet connection (and the traditional PSTN connection) while handling both Skype and PSTN calls.
- A new line of Desktop Internet Phones with a larger LCD display that again can be directly connected to a broadband router to make calls.
The Skype Dual Mode Cordless phones comprise a base station that supports up to four remote handsets via DECT technology to avoid interference from WiFi networks while providing enhanced sound quality. Participating at this morning’s press conference were representatives of both NetGear and Philips but we can expect to see similar products from additional hardware partners over the next few months.
With these phones one can place handsets around the home, providing both presence information and Skype access from any location within the home. They have the potential to significantly change the calling dynamics within the family or a group of friends. One U.K.-based Skype employee had already provided these phones to his brother in the U.S. and his mother in Denmark such that mom could see the availability of either of her sons at any time and just pick up any handset in the house to make a call.
Since they operate independently of any PC, both the Dual Mode Cordless Phones and the Desktop Internet Phones eliminate any interference during Skype calls caused by using Skype on a Windows-based PC where other applications, such as Outlook, have the potential to disrupt a call while carrying some activity such as downloading email.
When asked how they would differentiate their products the NetGear representative referred to their user ergonomics and compatibility with other NetGear products to provide a positive customer experience while the Phillips representative talked about how they had incorporated Phillips’ experience with voice quality enhancement using sealed acoustic chamber technology and unique DSP (digital signal processing) algorithms.
With suggested retail pricing of US$229 (NetGear) and US$169 (Phillips) these two products will soon be available at the Skype store as well as via their traditional retail channel partners.
(Once the Skype press releases are available on the Skype website, links to the various announcements will be added to this post.)
Tags: Skype, Nokia N800, NetGear, Philips, Skype Dual Mode Phones