Skype and the Return of the Rabbit

Mike at TechDirt writes that Accton Technology are launching a special Skype cordless phone that connects via any wireless router available. In other words, at home you don’t need your computer switched on, and when roaming you can simply connect via any open wireless LAN network.

As Mike points out, this doesn’t actually seem terribly useful as you’ll have to carry around a gadget that doesn’t work most of the time.

Actually, it reminds me of what must be one of the classic new product failures of all time – Hutchison Whampoa’s Rabbit phone (pictured above from News Wireless). The idea behind the Rabbit, was that you got a mobile receiver and made calls by logging into a base station, which were going to be scattered liberally around the UK and installed in high traffic, public places.

The reasons the Rabbit failed were much the same as that faced with the new Skype phone – no one can call you, which is at least half the point of having a phone. Plus, every time you want to use the damn thing, you need to find an access point and presumably, an open (ie not encrypted) one.

However, the humble Rabbit morphed into the mighty Orange, so there was a happy ending for Hutch in that instance. Let’s hope Accton have a similar stroke of luck, despite apparently failing to learn form history.

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