January 3, 2006 10:20 AM PST

Skype targets mainstream consumers

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Skype is making a play for the mainstream IP telephony market with a series of new products being announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

The company, which provides free calling from computer to computer over the Internet, announced on Tuesday several new products developed through partnerships with consumer electronics manufacturers to make it easier for people to use its Internet phone service. It also announced a new service it is launching with Kodak that combines live voice conversations and photo sharing.

The new products Skype announced at CES are designed to make the company more competitive with traditional phone services and other voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, services such as Vonage. New cordless phones will enable users to wander away from their desktops, and new adapters should make it easier for consumers to switch between ordinary landline telephone calls and those that travel over the Internet.

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Skype's push to make its service more appealing to the mainstream public is a necessity, analysts say. The company, bought last year by eBay for between $2.5 billion and $4 billion, has more than 70 million registered users but needs to expand its market. It has already been making strides in the consumer market with a deal announced in November to sell Skype starter kits in RadioShack stores.

"If they were only going to do PC-to-PC voice calling, they'd only get a small piece of the overall VoIP market," said Lisa Pierce, research fellow at Forrester Research. "And quite frankly, that wouldn't be worth it, considering how much eBay paid for them (Skype). They have to offer more universal services in order to build awareness and acceptance of their services."

Specifically, Skype announced that it has developed a new standalone handset to enable users to make free Skype calls over the Internet without a PC connection. It also announced a new phone adapter developed with D-Link, called the DPH-50U, that allows the Skype service to be used with a traditional phone.

Ipevo, which already makes several Skype-enabled handsets, has also developed a new cordless handset and speaker phone to be used with Skype. And the company announced that Panasonic has also developed a cordless phone that works with its service, allowing users to make and receive Skype calls and traditional calls on the same device.

Skype is expected to make another announcement with home networking equipment maker Netgear on Wednesday.

The company also said it is testing a new service with Kodak that allows people to create a narrated photo album from Kodak's EasyShare Gallery. After creating an album by selecting photos in the gallery, users can call friends using the Skype service to simultaneously watch the slideshow live.


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I don't know
I can make calls for a little over 2 cents a minute, using my regular phone and I don't need broadband. Perhaps those that love to talk endless this would work well for.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't know either
It actually costs MORE to call domestically to a land-line using
Skype since each call is charged and many or most home plans
include a large number of minutes or unlimited long distance.
Skype's long distance rates from the US are generally higher than
my VoIP provider charges. And then Skype wants users to buy a
dedicated phone?
Posted by nicmart (1829 comments )
Link Flag
Future of VOIP Telephony
Skype recently released a PDA version of their software which allows the user to logon when within range of a wireless network. This developement paired with cities developing free city wide hotspots in coordination with companies such as Google creates the future possibility of a Skype "cellphone" that would be entirely free and mobile. Anyone have thoughts on this?
Posted by sliktik1 (1 comment )
Link Flag
I do know
If you have a firend or family member who lives overseas. You could buy two adapters and never have to pay for long distance again. (When calling that person of course).

For making Skype to POTS calls there is really no need.
Posted by SteveBarry687 (170 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Europe is different
Call prices are higher and so for long distances calls Skype is worth it.
For me calling Ireland from the UK or vice-versa is cost effective using Skype.

Also, when phoning friends in Australia - even to their mobile it was cheaper.
Posted by ahickey (177 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can't wait to see these new products
My two complaints with Skype are the lack of quality equipment (and that it must be connected to a PC), and that it doesn't work well with callerID. Maybe this new equipment will fix my first complaint with the second not being far behind.
Posted by zizzybaloobah (218 comments )
Reply Link Flag
skype mobile
Visiting Canada my U.K cellphone provider charges £1.65 toe send or receive calls ,skype on the other hand charge £0.15 per minut to mobiles in the U.K and £0,02 calling landlines from canada to U.K receiving calls is free,my cellphone provider in U.K is 3 Mobile they have a fully mobile skype phone with free worldwide skype to skype calls ,it is also a fully functunal mobile with internet acces and built in modem for laptop internet connection ,the phone is pay as you go or contract .yes the phones are out there and are working
Posted by william gaff (1 comment )
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