Skype to make U.S. retail debut

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korsjs

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The Luxembourg-based Net telephony company, founded by the people behind the Kazaa peer-to-peer service, is expected to announce on Monday that it has struck a partnership with consumer electronics chain RadioShack.

More than 3,000 RadioShack locations nationwide on Monday will begin offering the Skype Starter Kit, which includes the software that enables a customer to use Skype's free computer-to-computer telephone service, a headset and 30 minutes of Skype's premium service, with which a user can call a landline or cell phone, company executives said.


The move is an attempt by Skype, the world's largest provider of voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, to introduce its service to mainstream America. Before this deal, U.S. consumers could only get Skype service by downloading the software from the Internet.


"Skype has grown rapidly among early adopters, and this partnership with RadioShack will bring Skype to the mass market," said Saul Klein, Skype's vice president of global marketing.

Since launching in 2002, Skype has rattled traditional telephone companies by offering free computer-to-computer VoIP calls and low-cost connectivity between computer and landline or mobile phones. While Skype can boast 66 million registered users and a growth rate of 180,000 new customers per day, the market is still in its infancy, and major conglomerates have begun venturing into the sector.

A tiny fraction of Americans use VoIP, and analysts have predicted that continued growth in the market may ignite a land grab by large players.

On Wednesday, electronics kingpin Sony launched a free Web-based phone service designed to link users via their computer video cameras. Yahoo, America Online and others have long offered computer-to-computer phone services. Microsoft revealed plans earlier this month to offer Internet-to-telephone calling.

Skype's competitive position was bolstered in September when the deep-pocketed eBay announced that it had agreed to acquire Skype for between $2.5 billion and $4 billion.

Besides growing competition, another obstacle Skype faces is entrenched consumer behavior, said Charles Golvin, a telecommunications analyst for Forrester Research.

"When consumers think of making phone calls, they look for their phone and not their PC," Golvin said. "I think moving into retail is a smart move by Skype. It removes one of the fundamental impediments to its business: It puts the necessary equipment into people's hands, and it helps to spread the word that free Web phone service exists."

http://news.com.com/Skype+to+make+U.S.+retail+debut/2100-1034_3-5961010.html?tag=nefd.top
 
cablewithaview

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Skype Says RadioShack to Sell Kits for Its Web-Based Phone Service

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 20 - Skype, the Internet-phone company that eBay Inc. acquired for $4.1 billion, is reaching for the American consumer mainstream by selling its telephone kits in RadioShack stores.

Skype Technologies, which counts 66 million users of its free- and low-cost Web-based telephone services, mainly in Europe and Asia, said on Sunday that it would distribute Skype phone gear through 3,500 RadioShack stores.

The move into the retail market promises to raise Skype's profile with American broadband users, who have begun to switch from traditional phone systems and use alternatives that rely on Internet connections.

Skype, which has signed up many more users than other broadband phone alternatives, offers simple-to-install software to allow users to call other computers or phones. It works like a music file-sharing service and needs no central phone network switches as a rival, Vonage, does. That makes Skype's service cheaper to operate.

RadioShack provides a missing link by supplying phone headsets or handsets that most consumers will require in order to use low-cost Web-based calling. Skype will be featured in RadioShack holiday mailings and catalogs.

Beginning Monday, RadioShack will also have a special kiosk to feature Skype products, including a new Motorola headset that uses short-range wireless Bluetooth technology to make calls via Skype, priced at $100. It will sell a $40 headset from Logitech and a $129 cordless phone from Linksys, a unit of Cisco Systems.

The RadioShack kiosk will feature Skype starter kits for $5 with a simple earpiece/microphone, software and 30 minutes of free Skype calling time to any number in the world. Sales clerks will offer training videos and software to customers.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/21/business/21skype.html?oref=login
 

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