Apple iPhone owners to get Skype

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In a move that shows that time brings justice to most bad ideas ... starting today, Apple iPhone users can make calls without ticking-off calling plan minutes.

How, you ask, is that possible?

Skype is the hero here, bringing free minutes to those who are already paying about $100 a month for their iPhone service. Beginning today, iPhone owners can download Skype software onto their phones and then call other Skype users at their computer or cell phone.

There is, of course, a catch: You need to be in a wi-fi hot spot. Otherwise, iPhone Skype users can call folks with land lines or those who don't have Skype for a free, which is typically 2.1 cents a minute, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

This pits Skype in a battle with the wireless companies. In a world that may eventually have wi-fi most everywhere, companies such as AT&T or Verizon would become a provider of cell phones, where they currently lose money on initial sales, and delete the need for those costly minutes, which are much more profitable.

Software-company Skype is moving towards providing its service on cell phones and away from providing free calls from your home or work computer.

Mobile devices are "where the majority of the world's conversations are happening these days," Scott Durchslag, chief operating officer of Skype, told the Journal.

"We are not tied to a single device. We are not tied to a single network," he said. Providing its software for cell phones is "the No. 1 request that we get from our customers.''

Skype says it will introduce software later this year for BlackBerry devices. In January, Skype released a version of the software for the Google-backed Android G1 phone. The company, owned by eBay, has seen 12 million downloads since 2005 for its software for smart phones using Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile operating system.

Phone companies will eventually see the advantage of allowing Skype to function on their networks, Durchslag told the newspaper, because it could help them attract customers and bring additional revenue from selling data services. Many 3G iPhone users pay $30 a month for their data plan.

Due to the need for wi-fi and other potential pitfalls on a network that doesn't have the most reliable connections (take it from a current iPhone user), initially, the service may be spotty.

Once the service is available Tuesday though, the corner will have been turned. Free minutes for all!

Heck, at that price, who's going to complain about a few dropped calls? Can you hear me now?

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