Skype Thinks Outside the PC Box with Partner Push

eBay-owned Skype partners with major mobile hardware providers like Motorola, embedded-system developers, accessory makers and retailers like RadioShack to help gain users outside personal computing.

Skype Technologies, S.A. recently announced that it has signed a deal with RadioShack Corporation to distribute the first Skype-certified Motorola Bluetooth-enabled phones and headsets in America, making it the first U.S. retailer to offer this Internet phone service.

Recent product partnerships are in line with Skypes apparent goals in the last two years to grow beyond the desktop into embedded services, launching a developer program early this year to team with partners from hardware and headset manufacturers to develop Skype accessories.

"The partnership with Motorola is focused on the Motorola H500 Bluetooth Headset and PC Adaptor, which allows people to use the wireless headset for Skype calls as well as for regular mobile phone calls from their Bluetooth enabled cell phones," Saul Klein, Skypes VP of Global Marketing, told Ziff Davis Internet.

"The headset has a USB adaptor that plugs into your PC and synchs with your Skype contacts," Saul Klein, Skypes VP of Global Marketing, told Ziff Davis Internet.

/zimages/5/28571.gifSo why do we need Skype anyway? Click here to read more.

The Motorola Wireless Internet Calling Kit will be stocked in 3,500 RadioShack stores, along with other Skype-compatible gear.

The products will come from several vendors, including the Motorola H500 Bluetooth headset, Linksys CIT200 Cordless Internet Telephony Kit and Logitech Premium USB headset 250.

To use the Motorola headset, users must first have Skype on their PC.

"The Motorola Bluetooth headset can be used easily with cell phone calls, but to use the headset for Skype calls, someone would have to have a Skype account running on a PC," Klein said. "The Skype software is included with the Motorola Bluetooth headset or can be downloaded at"

"Skype calls can also be forwarded to your cell phone, linking the Motorola headset to your PC and cell for maximum mobility."

RadioShack will also offer a Skype "starter pack," including Skype software, a headset, and 30 minutes of SkypeOut minutes for making calls to people who dont have Skype (calls between Skype users are free).

This package will cost $4.99.

This is Skypes second partnership, coming on the heels of the announcement last month that it had teamed with IPEVO, a Silicon Valley-based subsidiary of PCHome Online, to offer Skype devices in the United States through IPEVOs Web site.

Skype is a proprietary peer to peer VOIP (voice over IP) network founded by the creators of KaZaA, but differing from other first generation P2Ps in that it is decentralized, making it cheaper to operate.

Boasting 66 million users—20 to 30 times more users than other broadband phone alternatives—and adding an average of 175,000 new ones each day, Skypes VOIP service was purchased by eBay in September for a record-setting $4.1 billion.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read about how Skype has addressed security vulnerabilities.

Earlier this month, the Info-Tech Research Group said that it is encouraging enterprise users to ban the Skype VOIP application from their workforce, citing security issues over the technologys firewall-tunneling protocols.

In response to these security concerns for large business customers, Skype recently responded to Ziff Davis Media by saying: "There [is] a certain category of businesses [that] have to control their communities quite significantly, like businesses in the financial community that have to log every transaction, Web browsing and telephone call," said Michael Jackson, director of operations for Skype, in London.

"Skype doesnt offer that. We dont attempt to address that market, and we dont really want to. There are communication solutions that are good for that," added Jackson.

The Skype Motorola Kit will retail today at RadioShack and at the online Skype store for $99.99.

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