By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Wal-Mart will increase the number of stores selling Skype-certified VoIP hardware this month.
The move will expand the number of Wal-Mart stores carrying Skype gear and calling cards from 1,800 to 3,400, an addition of 1,600 stores nationwide. Wal-Mart is offering GE and Philips cordless DECT phones embedded with Skype software, Logitech Web cams and handsets, and Skytone Skype products, among other Skype-certified products.
“We think the timing of this expansion right before the holidays will provide more customers with more savings on their communication needs, which do increase this time of year,” said a spokesperson for Wal-Mart. “Skype is a great fit with Wal-Mart because they offer long-term money-saving solutions for customers, including parents, grandparents, college students and military families.”
Another Skype vendor, Ipevo, said it has begun shipping its Solo desktop Skype phone this month.
The Skype-certified corded phone features embedded Skype calling software and connects directly to broadband modems for placing Skype calls with or without the PC on. It supports all of Skype's calling features, including SkypeIn, SkypeOut and Skype Voicemail.
The Solo features a speakerphone, LED indicators for missed call, voicemail, mute and speakerphone, speed-dial memory keys and a 2.4-inch adjustable color LCD screen.
The phone carries a $169 suggested retail and includes a 90-minute SkypeOut voucher.
Last month, Skype said it had registered its 20 millionth North American user, effectively doubling its registered user base over the last 12 month.
Close to 10 percent of the more than 232 million Internet users in North America have now downloaded and tried out Skype, the company said.
According to market research firm In-Stat (owned by TWICE parent company Reed Elsevier), Skype held 47 percent of the VoIP market by the end of the first quarter of this year. It represents 92 percent of all consumers who use a client-based VoIP provider.
Despite its growing penetration, Skype saw a major corporate restructuring earlier in the month. Co-founder and CEO Niklas Zennstrom stepped down and later admitted during a technology conference in Hungary that the company's growth projections were overly optimistic.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.