3 launches new Skype mobile phone

Mobile phone provider 3 has launched a new handset that will allow users to make free calls over the internet via telephony service Skype.

Users will also be able to use Skype's instant messaging service, 3 said. But while people using Skype on their computers are able to make cheap global calls to any phone number, this will not be possible via the new 3 handset.
Skype has about 246 million registered users worldwide and is one of the firms reshaping the global phone industry.

Mobile potential

To date, mobile phone companies have been unwilling to let users freely access Skype via their handsets for fear that it would hurt their business.
While it is possible to access Skype from a number of handsets, this has involved downloading third-party software, something that has put off the majority of users.
The Skype-phone will be the first instance of a phone operator launching a mass market device that is designed to allow free calling over the internet from a mobile, 3 said.
"It takes an innovative operator... to challenge traditional thinking and offer the kind of product other operators are still shying away from," said Skype's acting chief executive, Michael van Swaaij.
"It's is now truly mobile. Skype has now taken a giant step forward in the mobile arena.

And chief executive of 3 UK, Kevin Russell, said the firm wanted to make mobile internet more accessible.
"Services need to be simple to access and affordable," he said.
"Mobile has the potential to massively increase access to internet calling."

Global reach

The service, launching on 2 November, will be accessed by a button on the handset.
As well as the UK, the 3 Skype-phone will be launched in countries including Australia, Denmark, Italy and Hong Kong.
Pay as you go customers will have to top up their account with at least £10 each month to qualify for the free Skype-to-Skype calls, 3 said.
Source: © BBC MMVII

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Asia-Pacific region drives surge

Over half of the world's population will have a mobile phone by 2008, according to new research.

A new report from Portio Research predicts that the global mobile penetration rate will surpass the 50 per cent mark next year. That's not all though, because a further 1.5 billion mobile phone users are expected over the next four years to bring the overall penetration rate to 75 per cent by 2011.

Some 65 per cent of these additional users are likely to come from the Asia Pacific region, rather than from Africa as has previously been supposed. Moreover, the majority of the new subscribers will be from rural regions in countries such as India and Pakistan.

While mature markets such as Europe aren't expected to show any serious signs of growth over the next few years, Portio predicts that the US is likely to buck that trend seeing five years of sustained high-value volume growth.

Portio's report, entitled The Next Billion: Strategies for driving growth and making profits in low-ARPU mobile markets, puts the future growth of the mobile industry into some sort of perspective.

The study notes that while there will be a rapid rise in mobile owners in emerging markets, the monthly Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for US subscribers is expected to be equivalent to yearly ARPU from customers in other countries. In India and Bangladesh, for example, subscribers are only just beginning to move towards monthly ARPU of about $3 or $4.

Indeed, the report goes on to claim that each North American subscriber is worth as many as seven new subscribers in Asia in terms of revenue.

Despite the obvious disparity in profits for mobile operators geographically, Portio's study does offer insights into why the big players can't afford to ignore any region.

It notes that while Asia Pacific offers massive growth in subscriber numbers and North America and Europe offer the highest levels of ARPU, South America will see continued growth of basic services with significantly higher returns per user than much of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Moreover, it adds that Africa offers great future potential as "the last billion" when markets everywhere else are reaching saturation.

A recent study from Informa also heralded a rise in global mobile penetration. The firm announced in July that mobile subscriptions had reached three billion worldwide, but it said that there were fewer than 2.3 billion users of mobile services.

According to Informa's forecasts, users of mobile services will not reach three billion until the end of 2009, by which time subscriptions are forecast to reach four billion.

© 2007 ENN

Source: The Register

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We've heard a lot about 'citizen journalism' in the last year, which generally involves members of the public shooting photos and/or video on their cameraphones, then sending them into newspapers or TV broadcasters. It's even been claimed the phenomenon could put proper journalists out of a job. Nokia and Reuters have other ideas, though.

They've launched a new project called 'Reuters Mobile Journalism' (although we prefer the way the website address shortens that to Reuters MoJo). It's basically an application preloaded on Nokia N95 handsets, allowing Reuters hacks to file stories from events without the need for a laptop. They've already been testing it out at events like New York Fashion Week and the Edinburgh Film Festival.

It's easy to see why putting cameraphones into the hands of journalists will result in some interesting stuff - more photo and video-related than textual. But this isn't new - savvier websites have been getting their journalists to moblog for a while now, using existing technologies and services. Still, it'll be interesting to see how the relationship between Nokia and Reuters develops - we wonder how many journalists would put up with filing content from a device with the N95's famously low battery life...
Link: Reuters Mobile Journalism website

Mobile Choice Blog

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Facebook, in the midst of a high-stakes negotiation over its future, has just dramatically upped the ante. How? The social network is quietly starting to promote its long-rumored ad-targeting system -- under a clever costume. Facebook has disguised the system as a simple upgrade to Flyers, its much-derided system for selling cheap ads on a self-service basis. This new system shares little with Flyers except its name, however -- and poses an obvious threat to Google.

Like Google's AdWords, Facebook's Flyers Pro charges per click. Unlike Facebook's old Flyers, which only let advertisers target small groups like students and alumni of a particular college, Flyers Pro lets advertisers target by city, gender, age, relationship status, employer, educational level, political views, and -- are you listening, Google? -- keywords. Facebook, of course, has the data, freely given by its users to target to those characteristics.
Article continues at Valleywag

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It's true that the N810 and the iPod Touch and similar devices may fail on the first go around, but they're indicative of a trend toward mobile computing and acceptance of using mobile devices to access the web and the growing catalog of web applications to get things done.

As wifi access becomes more ubiquitous and relying on cellular networks to get online via mobile devices becomes less important, I think we'll see a lot of growth in this market. As applications move online and access is everywhere, full-sized computers will be needed less, and will be less desirable, for many of our daily tasks.

The mobile phone (or mobile Internet device) as your primary computer may become a less foreign idea over the next few years in developed nations.

What do you think?
Is the mobile web (or, rather, using mobile devices to access the web) finally coming of age?
Are we set to see more of these devices flooding the marketplace in the future or will the idea never take off?

At the end of last year, only 15% of R/WW prognosticated that the mobile web would be the biggest web trend of this year.
Could the results for next year's predictions be different?
Source: Read/WriteWeb

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