Verizon updates VoIP phone

Verizon Communications is trying to keep customers tied to the old idea of a home phone with updates to its new Verizon Hub.

The Verizon Hub, which was introduced earlier this year, is essentially a souped-up voice-over IP handset. It's designed to be the main phone and communication "hub" for the household, providing not only phone service, but also sports, weather, and other news.

But given the device's hefty price tag of $199 with a two-year contract, it seems a bit steep for consumers who can already get that information and functionality from their cell phones. … Read more

eBay to launch a Skype IPO in 2010

eBay announced Tuesday plans to spin off its Internet phone and video-conferencing service, Skype, with an IPO in the first half of next year.

The decision comes four years after online auction giant eBay acquired Skype for $2.6 billion, with the plans to offer customers the ability to discuss their transactions in real-time. But over the course of the four years, eBay found its acquisition failed to provide the synergies it sought.

John Donahoe, eBay's chief executive, said in a statement:

Skype is a great stand-alone business with strong fundamentals and accelerating momentum. But it's clear that … Read more

Report: Financial backers join founders for Skype buyback

Skype's founders are reportedly encountering turbulence in striking a deal with eBay to buy back the Internet phone service, despite the financial backing from a group of large private equity firms, according to The Wall Street Journal.

KKR, Warburg Pincus, Elevation Partners, and Providence are reportedly teaming up with founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, who reportedly are interested in repurchasing their company from eBay.

But eBay and the founders' group face a wide gap on price, the Journal reported, and a deal involving the private equity firms appears unlikely.

The private equity firms are reportedly interested in kicking … Read more

VoxOx offers points deal to CNET readers

Update: VoxOx has extended the deal from Thursday, April 9, at 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. PDT. Also, $5 normally buys 500 VoxOx points, not 250 as previously stated.

Multiprotocol chat client VoxOx is offering a deal to CNET readers until 2:30 p.m. PST on Thursday, April 9. If you buy $5 worth of VoxPoints, instead of the usual 500 points, CNET readers will get 1,500 points. This is triple the number of points VoxOx is offering readers who sign on through VoxOx's own site. Each point converts to 1 minute's worth … Read more

Free calls to other Skype users

Skype for iPhone is an app that lets you use the Skype service to send instant messages and make voice calls for free to other Skype users, and to make low-price voice calls to cell phones and landlines around the world. You have to use Wi-Fi to make voice calls--the voice service won't work over 3G mobile networks--but that effectively means free iPhone-to-iPhone calls (using Skype and Wi-Fi), low-cost international calls from and to anywhere in the world (again, with Wi-Fi), and voice calls for iPod Touch users even (with an additional microphone, and while connected to Wi-Fi). Call … Read more

Skype for iPhone: What's the point?

Updated April 3, 2009 at 11:00 am PT with more questions and answers.

You've had a lot of questions about the new Skype for iPhone (download)--how it works and even why anyone would want to use it.

I'm going to answer some of the most frequently asked ones here, but if you've got more, you know what to do. Put 'em in the comments.

First of all, some context. Skype for iPhone is a voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, communications application that lets you chat with other Skype members for free, plus call landlines and mobile phones when you buy Skype Out credit. It is available in every country in which the App Store can be found, and it has already made a splash in the United States, Japan, and Europe.

Apple requires Skype and other voice applications to use Wi-Fi to place iPhone calls, not the hardware phone. Now without further ado:

1. If you've already got an iPhone, what's the point of having another calling application?

At least at first, Skype was primarily used to place international calls for free to other Skype users, or to landlines at a reduced rate on par with a calling card, for example. If you've got family and friends living abroad, the application's potential is a no-brainer.

Sure, you might not need to use Skype if everyone you know and love lives within a 500-mile radius of you. Yet users have already chimed in with examples of domestic uses, like if your home has a weak cellular signal but strong Wi-Fi; or if you eat through your free-talk minutes, a low-rate VoIP service like Skype will cost you less than the carrier's charge for each minute you go over your plan.

Also, don't forget that iPod Touch owners can use Skype and other VoIP applications (like Truphone and Fring) to make calls, even though the iPod has no telephone hardware--you just need earphones equipped with a mic.

2. If you're on the road, you still can't use your iPhone to make free calls with Skype, unless you can track down a Wi-Fi connection somewhere.

If you're in the United States, AT&T allows iPhone users free access to AT&T hot spots without incurring extra charges, though if you're attempting a call, you might not want to start it in the middle of Starbucks.

Also, even when you've got a laptop or desktop handy, and could use VoIP on the desktop, a calling client on the mobile phone gives you the freedom to wander. You won't be able to see your pals with the Webcam from the iPhone, though, so there is a trade-off.… Read more

Skype for iPhone: An iTunes App Store hit

If Skype for iPhone seems like a big deal to you, you're right. It's topping iPhone App Store charts in nine countries, Skype says.

The Skype for iPhone VoIP application, which became available Tuesday after an announcement at CTIA, is now the top free app in the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Holland, Japan, Russia, and Spain.

"I'm delighted that consumers have voted with their fingertips and chosen to download Skype in such phenomenal numbers," said Skype Chief Operations Office Scott Durchslag.

You can read more about Skype for iPhone in our hands-on reviewRead more

Skype VoIP app expanding to BlackBerry

Hot on the heels of releasing Skype for iPhone, the VoIP communications company has come to the table with news of a free, "lite" version of Skype for BlackBerry. Already downloadable for Android, Java, Symbian, and Windows Mobile, BlackBerry has remained Skype's missing link.

Just don't expect to share photos of your cat quite yet. While Skype's core capabilities will debut in Skype Lite for BlackBerry, not everything Skype can do will be available right out of the gate. You'll be able to call other Skype users for free, and can initiate calls to … Read more

CommuniGate Pronto users to get HD-voice service from GIPS

Global IP Solutions, a company that provides IP-based voice and video communication for mobile platforms, has now brought its solutions to power Web 2.0.

The company announced Monday that CommuniGate Systems (CGS), a carrier-class mobile unified communications (UC) provider, has embedded GIPS VoiceEngine to power voice communications in its Pronto client UC framework.… Read more

Skype for iPhone: It's official

Months after teasing us at CES with an announcement of Skype's native VoIP client for the iPhone, the free Skype for iPhone will finally be available to download from the iTunes App Store sometime on Tuesday. We got a chance to sit down with the application's principal engineer before the announcement was made at CTIA 2009, to see Skype for iPhone do its thing. While most of the features aren't too surprising--Skype does want to maintain some consistency across its mobile applications, after all--there are a few capabilities that are notably missing, and a few iPhone-only perks … Read more