The first USB (universal serial bus) phone developed by a new Taiwanese venture focusing on hardware products for use with Skype's VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) software sold out in just 50 hours in Taiwan, a company representative said.
The new USB phone, dubbed the Free.1, allows users to do away with the microphone and headset normally needed to make calls from a PC using Skype's popular software. Instead, users plug the Free.1 into a USB port and then make calls as they normally would - it looks and feels like a regular phone with a chord.
The Free.1 USB phone only comes in basic colors, black or white, a simple design made for use with Skype. After plugging it in through a USB port, a user can press a red "S" button to launch Skype and start talking to their friends PC to PC through the Internet. To get SkypeOut, a user only has to press a large "+" key, and the phone and software are ready for the PC to telephone service. Another button dubbed "list" opens a user's list of contacts, and then a wheel in the middle of the phone allows users to scroll down their contact lists, instead of using a mouse. Another nice feature is the phone rings like a normal home phone, alerting users to incoming calls so they don't have to keep watch over their computers.
The developer, Ipevo, sold the Free.1 in Taipei for NT$899 (US$27.42) each, selling out of few thousand units quickly. But another batch of the phones is ready, and will be sold from FNAC bookstores in Taipei starting from Saturday, according to the company.
Ipevo, which is focused solely on developing new Skype-based communications products, was established by one of Taiwan's largest Internet portals, PCHome Online. PCHome Online has a partnership with Skype Technologies to promote the Internet phone service in Taiwan, already attracting 2.5 million [M] users, according to PCHome.
Ipevo won't be limited to Taiwan, though. The San Jose, California-based hardware maker intends to sell its wares through the Internetat http://www.ipevo.com starting in October, according to Vicky Tseng, a representative from PCHome Online. Eventually, it will serve all markets, she said.
The company plans to market its first wireless Skype phone in November, according to Tseng.