Video: Something for everyone at CES

updated 1/8/2009 4:58:21 PM ET 2009-01-08T21:58:21

Free calls over Skype, the Internet communications service, could be coming soon to the iPhone.

Skype, a subsidiary of eBay Inc., said Thursday at the International Consumer Electronics Show that a version of its Internet calling and instant-messaging software is available for Google Inc.'s Android cell phone platform as a free download. And it indicated an iPhone Skype program isn't far behind.

Scott Durschlag, Skype's chief operating officer, said Skype's iPhone application is still under development. Engineers are still working on cutting the amount of power the application consumes, he said.

Skype would not be the first iPhone program that makes use of Internet calling technology to save people from having to spend their cellular minutes. But when Apple started letting outside companies make programs for the iPhone, it barred voice-over-Internet applications from connecting to the cellular network, leaving them functional only when the user is in a Wi-Fi hot spot.

Apple representatives did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Skype's Durschlag opened his presentation on a bright note despite undercurrents of economic gloom in the tech industry.

"My biggest concern, to be honest with you, is an abundance of opportunities," Durschlag said. "The take-up of Skype is accelerating."

He said more than 370 million people have signed up for Skype, with about 30 million new users coming aboard each quarter.

New Skype software for Windows computers will be available in early February. It overhauls the user interface and makes full-screen video-calling features more prominent. According to the company, the new version also marks an advance in audio quality.

This week, Skype launched a new version for Apple's Macintosh computers. The company also is releasing an open-source version for an emerging category of small Intel-based computers that run Linux software.

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