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Skype smartphones available in Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The world's first smartphone designed for communication software Skype is now available at PChome online markets, the phone's developer said yesterday.

Linktel Inc., which provides Skype service in Taiwan, aims to use this new device to replace landlines around the globe, vowing to “put conventional landlines into the past tense.”

“While the rest of the world is trying to put everything into smartphones, we have simply focused on the 'talk' part itself, making this feature the best in its class,” Linktel Chairman Jan Hung-tze said at the launch ceremony.

“As long as there is an Internet connection, free phone calls can be made anytime and anywhere,” he added.

While Skype software is available on computers, tablets and smartphones, Linktel's device is built around the Voice over Internet Protocal (VoIP) technology.

The phone, which carries a price tag of NT$1,990 (US$66), sports a 4.3-inch display, a dual-core 1GHz processor and a 2-megapixel camera on the front. Designed in Taiwan and manufactured in China, it is now available in 105 countries.

Linktel declined requests to reveal the phone's contract manufacturers and estimates of how many units will be shipped.

Sam Tsai, chief operation officer at Linktel, said that his company aims to “make phone bills disappear.”

“With the Skype smartphone, users can make free calls and send files and text messages without the hassle of turning on a computer and plugging in a webcam and a handset,” Tsai said.

The device allows for teleconferences with an HDMI cord that connects to external screens, he added.

“We see potential in the [Skype smartphone] market,” Tsai said.

First released in 2003, Skype was acquired by Microsoft Corp. in 2011. It currently has over 300 million active users worldwide with at least 2 billion minutes of free calls made every day, according to Linktel.

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PChome Online Inc. Chairman Jan Hung-tze (詹宏志) poses with a Skype Android-enabled smartphone at a press conference, yesterday. The new PChomeTalk phone is the very first smartphone in the world to come equipped with the Skype operating system.

(CNA)

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