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November 21, 2005

Skype goes retail to beef up US push

Skype is going retail as the Internet-phone company starts selling its telephone kits in RadioShack stores in the US.

By CBR Staff Writer

Skype Technologies, bought by eBay earlier this year, plans to distribute Skype phone gear through 3,500 RadioShack stores. With most of Skype’s customers in Europe, the move is intended to raise its profile with US broadband users.

Skype will be featured in RadioShack holiday mailings and catalogs. 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.

The retail pact with RadioShack is Skype’s first general distribution deal with a retailer anywhere in the world, said Saul Klein, Skype’s vice president of global marketing. Skype will be featured in RadioShack holiday mailings and catalogs. The RadioShack relationship is really our coming to America. You will be hearing more from us about retail relationships in other markets.

It also puts Skype on a more competitive footing with rival Vonage which boasts more than a million paying subscribers for its broadband phone service, mostly in the US. Vonage sells its phone gear and services via the Web and in a wide range of retailers, including RadioShack.

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