Remember Orson Welles's Gallo wine commercials, where he raised his glass to "things worth waiting for"? Well, here is something worth waiting for: A Skype cordless phone which does not require a PC connection. The new Philips VOIP841 plugs into a a RJ-11 jack and can make and receive Skype calls as if it were the regular home phone unit. Manrique Brenes, director of hardware business development for Skype, says: "If someone calls on the regular phone, it will ring. If someone calls you on your Skype, it will ring. It's similar to the experience you have on the laptop, but it's a lot easier to use. We've had a lot of success with the regular USB phones, and we think this is taking it a step further."
Philips is the only one making the phone now, but Skype expects other manufacturers to show interest. The phone will cost about $150 and will be available during the holiday season.
Skype advises consumers that its phone should not be used as a replacement to a regular phone, since the latter provides services--emergency calling, for example, that the former does not. There is, however, a lucrative niche for the phone: The constituency of callers who make many international calls but who are not necessarily comfortable with computers. More and more immigrants from the Third World, many with but basic education, are moving to advanced industrial societies seeking jobs. They want to keep in touch with family members back home and the new Skype phone might be ideal for them.
For more on the new Skype phone:
- see Natali Del Conte's ABC report