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Sony to add Skype service to PSP in March in Japan

TOKYO – Sony Corp (6758.T) said it would add a Skype Web phone function to its PlayStation Portable later this month in Japan in a bid to boost the appeal of the handheld machine, which is running behind Nintendo Co Ltd’s (7974.OS) DS in sales.

Skype is a unit of eBay Inc (EBAY.O), the world’s largest online auctioneer.

Sony’s game unit had said in January it was delaying the introduction later that month of the Skype service for PSP users in Japan, as a microphone it planned to start selling for the new service did not meet Skype specifications.

But the same microphone has managed to pass the Skype requirements on condition that it is sold with the recommendation that it be used within 10 centimeters of the mouth of a user.

Sony Computer Entertainment now plans to start selling the microphone on March 19 in Japan for 2,500 yen ($24), enabling PSP users to make free Web-based phone calls to other PSP users and to users of PCs equipped with Skype software.

It started offering the Skype service on the PSP earlier this year in overseas markets.