Skype’s anticipated mobile phone is now official. Britain’s mobile carrier 3 will start selling it on November 2 in the UK, and later this year in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Macau and Sweden. This will be the first mobile phone with Skype built in, meaning that calls to other Skype members are free. The phone will cost about $100 with a pay-as-you-go plan (for the non-Skype calls), or free with a monthly contract.
This is an enlightened move on the part of 3. If people are going to start bypassing the mobile carriers with free Internet calls, the carriers might as well get in front of the trend and start cannibalizing themselves. At least this way, 3 captures the non-Skype calls and wins loyalty points among its Skype-using subscribers. Anything that reduces customer churn is worth a try in the eyes of the carriers.