Skype announced Dec. 10 that it is releasing a limited beta version of Skype for Symbian, a version of its voice-over IP software for smartphones running the Symbian OS. Which is to say, Nokia phones.
The software enables free Skype-to-Skype calls, inexpensive calls between Skype and a landline, instant messaging, group conversations, the sending and receiving of files, and the ability to receive calls on an online number.
Skype for Symbian works over Wi-Fi and 3G data connections - though if you use the latter, Skype hopes you have an unlimited data plan.
The beta version supports more than 10 devices, and the production release will include even more, Skype said on its Website. For now the list includes: Symbian S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1 and Pack 2 devices, as well as the Nokia E71, E63, E66, N82, E51, multiple models of the N95 and N81, the E90, N96, N85, 5320, 6210 Navigator and Classic, the N78 and the N79.
The software can be installed over the air, via the Nokia PC Suite, or can be sent to the phone over a Bluetooth connection. Users just need to have 6MB of free space. Should you hit any snafus, Skype would love to hear about it.
"Did you like it? Did we miss anything? Did you have trouble using it? Did you have any technical issues? Let us know about it on our forums," according to Skype. "Please remember that it is a beta release, which means that the quality is not up to our usual high standards."
"I see great opportunity for Nokia to capture new growth in our industry, by creating what we expect to be the world's biggest platform for services on the mobile," Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said at the company's annual Capital Markets Day on Dec. 2.
However, not everyone is convinced that a Symbian update can save the faltering phone maker, which during the third quarter of 2009 reported revenue losses of approximately $838 million.
"The underlying weakness for Nokia is Symbian, its handset OS, which is outdated and increasingly difficult for developers to work with and for consumers to use," Ken Hyers, an analyst with Technology Business Research, recently told eWEEK.
Hyers went on to say that Google's open-source mobile OS, Android, might be the better route for Nokia.
According to Skype, its users spent 3.1 billion minutes on Skype-to-landline calls, during the third quarter of 2009, and 27.7 billion minutes on Skype-to-Skype calls, a third of which were video calls.
On Dec. 1, VOIP company Fring announced that owners of iPhones and some Nokia handsets can, with its software, now place video calls over Skype when using a Wi-Fi connection.