The discount retail giant, Wal-Mart, announced today that it will be adding an array of Skype certified phone gear including handsets, Webcams, headsets, pre-paid calling cards and other equipment to the electronics section in more than 1,800 stores.
"We have taken a sharp focus to launch the products and brands that consumers are moving toward at the most affordable prices," said Kevin O'Connor, vice president and general merchandise manager, Wal-Mart Electronics. "The Skype hardware and pre-paid cards are a great fit with Wal-Mart because they offer long-term money-saving solutions at the right time for many customers – parents, grandparents, college students and military families."
Wal-Mart will sell a $8.85 calling card that will provide customers with unlimited calling in the United States and Canada for three months, becoming the first and only retailer to offer such cards.
The addition of Skype Internet communications products to Wal-Mart stores comes at a time when Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) adoption among U.S. households is growing rapidly. According to the Telecommunications Industry Association, 9.9% of all landlines in the U.S. were VoIP lines in 2006, and this will rise to 34.1% by 2010. In addition, Skype is the number one software-based VoIP application in the U.S. by market share, according to a March 2007 report by In-Stat.
This is a huge win for Skype, with an already large user base of 196 million registered users around the world, the deal will bring many Wal-Mart shoppers not familiar with Skype to give it a try and help drive usage among the mainstream public.