November 18, 2005 12:24 PM PST

Skype to make U.S. retail debut

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Net telephone service Skype Technologies is set to make its first appearance in a U.S. retail store.

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.

Skype Starter Kit

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 landgrab 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 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."

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Goody!
Goody, at least they don't come Sony's Windoze rootkit DRM/spyware that is their norm these days, and excessive charges that SONY bill all users!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sony?
>On Wednesday, electronics kingpin Sony
>launched a free Web-based phone service
>designed to link users via their computer
>video cameras

Does it include a rootkit installer? Thanks, I'll pass and stick with Skype and Apple's iChat.
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Brilliant Move By Skype
Distributing Skype through Radio Shack is a great idea. I think it will really boost adoption here in the U.S. among mainstream consumers. It's probably the first benefit of Skype being bought by Ebay. I expect that down the road Skype will sell a webcam bundle. The video quality using Spontania is quite good.

As for the Sony IVE offering, it stinks. I could not get the blasted program to work -- it kept hanging. It's a nightmare if you have a firewall. You have to open up all kinds of inbound ports, which is going to create hacker vulnerabilities. In contrast, Skype does not require any extra firewall tweaking. You can make it use port 80, or any other port you so desire.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
linux dsp theif!!
I wish I could share my dsp mixer with Skype.. i give them an inch of it and they they take the whole dang thing... its really uncool... a lot of people have been complaining about it..
Posted by (47 comments )
Reply Link Flag
does anyone still go to Radio Shack?
I haven't been to one in ages because of its junk low quality goods. I hope Skype doesn't likewise become associated with that image.
Posted by ernieoporto (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Like most stores.....
..... Radio Shack does sell cheap junk, for those who want cheap
junk. But it also offers quality products for those who want to pay a
little more. I don't particularly appreciate the Radio Shack brand,
but that's not on a technical basis. And, I do buy a lot of the routine
electronics I use from Radio Shack.

It's an adequate store. Give them a break!
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
re: does anyone still go to Radio Shack?
Radio Shack's get a fair amount of foot traffic, in strip malls and small towns. As they say in their press release, there's a Radio Shack within 5 minutes of 94% of U.S. homes. They're kind of like 7-11, your choice is limited but you can get in and out quickly. They sell a lot of items in partnership with providers, like mobile service, Sirius, Comcast, etc. Here's a recent press release from RSH regarding the Comcast deal.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://corpinfo.radioshack.com/companyinfo/Internet_Html_Pages/footer.asp?x=240316880P" target="_newWindow">http://corpinfo.radioshack.com/companyinfo/Internet_Html_Pages/footer.asp?x=240316880P</a>
"Comcast and RadioShack Announce Comprehensive Broadband and Video Services Retail Agreement

Comcast products and services added to 1,800 RadioShack neighborhood stores, further expanding Comcasts retail distribution leadership

PHILADELPHIA and FORT WORTH, Texas, Nov. 1, 2005  Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), and RadioShack Corporation (NYSE: RSH) today announced a comprehensive retail agreement spanning both high-speed Internet and digital cable services. This agreement adds more than 1,800 RadioShack retail locations immediately to Comcasts already sizeable retail footprint. It also allows RadioShack to provide a robust broadband and video solution to its customers in those markets. Our announcement with RadioShack further supports our continuing efforts to offer Comcast services to consumers at a time and place thats convenient for them. There is a neighborhood RadioShack within an estimated five minutes of where 94 percent of all Americans either live or work, said Bob Faught, senior vice president of retail sales for Comcast Online. Consumers can visit their local RadioShack, sign up for Comcast High-Speed Internet, for example, bring home a self-install kit, and connect to the Internet later that same day. Comcast is also setting a new standard for the broadband/cable industry  now with an expanded retail presence spanning nearly 5,000 retail locations nationwide, Faught continued."
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Link Flag
IPFONES IP-700m USB World Phone for SKYPE
Exactly as Mr Charles Golvin, a telecommunications analyst for Forrester Research quoted:
"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."


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Posted by thomasbui (2 comments )
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