Nokia launches Skype for Symbian^1, free 3G calls for 200 million users

It's been just over a year since Nokia first announced it would be bringing Skype to its top-of-the-line N-Series smartphones. Today Nokia announced the popular voice and text chat client is available on all Symbian^1-based devices, making free voice calls over 3G a possibility for some 200 million handsets.

The free Skype client can be downloaded from the Ovi Store. It lets users make free Skype-to-Skype calls; send and receive instant messages to and from individuals or groups; share pictures, videos and other files; receive calls through an online number; see when other Skype users are live and available; and import contacts from the native phone address book.

The initial list of compatible handsets includes: N97, N97 mini, X6, 5800 XpressMusic and 5530 in the all-touch form factor, and E72, E71, E90, E63, E66, E51, N96, N95, N95 8Gb, N85, N82, N81, N81 8 Gb, N79, N78, 6220 classic, 6210 Navigator, and 5320.

Since Skype effectively gives away for free what the telephone companies have long charged for, the technology for Skype on mobile devices is actually quite old. Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom said they intended to have the service on Nokia phones as far back as 2005, but mobile networks viewed Skype as a threat to their business model.

But now that mobile networks are making their slow upgrades to all-data networks, they're changing their tune. Last February 16, Verizon Wireless made the huge announcement that it will begin supporting free Skype calls over its 3G network, and it appears that things are changing dramatically for the popular soft phone and indeed for mobile VoIP as a whole.

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