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iPhone finally gets Skype

But why?

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From tomorrow iPhone users will be able to download a Skype application from iTunes, though they'll still be prevented from making calls over 3G connections, and will still miss out on the functionality offered by alternative Skype clients.

Announced at the CTIA show currently taking place in Las Vegas, the native iPhone client from Skype will provide free calls to other Skype users and cheap calling through SkypeOut: as long as one is securely connected to a Wi-Fi network.

CNet got a good look, and concluded that what's missing is text messaging, file transfer and integrated voicemail. It also lacks an integrated way to pay for additional SkypeOut credit - surely an appropriate use of the recently announced incremental-billing platform available through iTunes.

The iPhone's inability to run more than one application at a time would seem to make multi-functional applications, such as Fring or NimBuzz, more popular. Both those applications integrate with multiple messaging and VoIP networks, including Skype.

Nimbuzz and Fring are required to route connections through their own servers, so the connection between the handset and those proxies isn't using Skype's technology - which Skype reckons means lower quality calling and greater latency, but we won't know that until the software is launched tomorrow.

With all the clients being free there seems little reason not to download and compare, but many users will go for the "official" client by habit. ®

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