3 Chief: ‘free calls’ Skype phone will put us in line for the big time

The launch of the new Skypephone, from mobile operator 3, will be a “defining moment” for the brand, according to its marketing director John Penberthy-Smith.

The handset allows users to make up to 70 hours of free calls each month using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. 3 has been working with eBay-owned Skype for more than a year and already offers the service on its X-Series platform, but the Skypephone is designed to appeal to a much wider audience.

Penberthy-Smith, who replaced Graeme Oxby as 3’s marketing director at the start of this year, says: “We want to give people more reasons to choose 3. It has taken us four years to get the basics right, but the reason 3 was created was to make things better for customers and this is the start of that. It is one of the defining moments for us. This is not a high-end, aspirational phone that will sell a few thousand. We expect it to sell in huge volumes.” The Skype phone has a button above the standard keypad that activates Skype. The button calls up a list of the user’s Skype friends who can be called free on their mobiles or laptops.

An advertising campaign created by Skype’s agency Albion breaks next week, explaining the phone and its benefits. Penberthy-Smith says the rest of the activity will be through word of mouth, adding/ “I really believe that the product will sell itself.”