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In a bid to create the most feature-rich mobile entertainment devices Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. announced at Consumer Electronics Show that its well-known Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) game console would feature popular Skype voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP). The claim confirms earlier available unofficial information, but SCEI limits its Skype feature only to so-called PSP Slim devices.

Sony PlayStation Portable users worldwide will be able to start using Skype features and services through a simple system software update scheduled in late January. After updating the PSP system software, a Skype icon will be added to the Network category in the home menu. PSP users who do not yet have a Skype username can register by clicking the icon and following the instructions. PSP users who already have a Skype username can immediately sign in by clicking the Skype icon and entering their username and password.

By introducing Skype on PSP, the following features and services will be made available to PSP users as of late January, provided that some features are paid for by end-users:

  • Free voice calls between Skype users;
  • Skype contact list management;
  • Skype presence;
  • SkypeOut calls to make calls to landlines and mobile phones anywhere in the world (requires the purchase of Skype credit);
  • Optional SkypeIn number that lets users receive calls on Skype from landlines and mobiles anywhere in the world (requires the purchase of Skype credit);
  • View and modify Skype settings and account details.

With Skype loaded, Sony PlayStation Portable game console becomes one of the most sophisticated entertainment and communication devices available. Even though PSP owners will still have to carry a cellphone with them, they may not need to have an advanced and heavy handset.

There are several obvious benefits of the decision to load Skype onto PSP: firstly, Sony introduces an advantage of PSP over Nintendo DS by packing communication capabilities into PlayStation Portable; secondly, the company now offers a powerful game platform that may compete against devices which primary functionality is making phone calls, e.g. smartphones or personal digital assistants; thirdly, PlayStation Portable now has features to compete against Nokia’s highly-discussed N-gage service.

Nokia tried to penetrate the market of handheld game consoles with its N-gage-series of phones several years ago, but failed and now is about to introduce N-gage service to its Symbian-based smartphones, which would enable relatively high-quality gaming experience to the masses. Given the popularity of Nokia phones as well as quality of titles and their affordability, the new N-gage has more chances to compete for gamers on the go.

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