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November 21, 2005

Skype Taking VoIP To Retail Via Radio Shack

Courtesy of TechWeb News

Skype is about to start offering VoIP kits in thousands of Radio Shack stores across the country, ratcheting up its already tight competition with Vonage Holdings.

In an aggressive move into U.S. retail markets, Skype Technologies said starter kits for its VoIP service will be offered in thousands of Radio Shack stores across the country.

The official announcement, expected Monday, follows by a year Skype's deal with Logitech, which marketed "Skype-Certified" headsets with up to 120 minutes of free vouchers for SkypeOut service. The Logitech-Skype offerings have been sold in U.S. retailers including Best Buy.

Acquired earlier this fall for $4.1 billion by eBay, Skype will find itself in tighter competition with Vonage Holdings, which has paced the U.S. paid VoIP market with more than one million subscribers. To date, their business plans have addressed different markets with Skype chiefly serving an international calling sector while Vonage serves U.S. subscribers with its $25-a-month offering.

The Reuters news service said Radio Shack, which has some 3,500 stores, will set up dedicated Skype kiosks. Logitech will continue its retailing relationship with Skype through a $40 headset in the kiosks. A Motorola headset with Bluetooth technology will be priced at $100 and Cisco Systems' Linksys unit will be selling a $129 cordless phone. A $5 starter kit with software, 30 minutes of Skype paid calling, and an earpiece/microphone will also be sold at the kiosks.

The Luxembourg-based Skype features free calling among Skype subscribers. More than 208 million users have downloaded Skype and 66 million use the service. The company has more than two million subscribers for its paid services, which include SkypeOut and SkypeIn. SkypeOut completes global calls to public switched telephone network (PSTN) subscribers while SkypeIn accepts calls from PSTN callers.

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