is teaming up with Wal-Mart to address the growing popularity and demand for Internet communications among U.S. consumers. Starting today, Wal-Mart is offering Skype Certified hardware in the Internet and voice communications area of 1,800 of its stores throughout the country, providing more opportunity and accessibility for people looking for affordable calling options. This partnership gives shoppers immediate hands-on access to headsets, webcams and handsets designed to work with Skype, as well as the first pre-paid cards for Skype available in the U.S.
The addition of Skype Internet communications products to Wal-Mart stores comes at a time when 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.
“We applaud Wal-Mart for recognizing the popularity of Skype and making it more accessible to Wal-Mart shoppers. This relationship with Wal-Mart will increase exposure for Skype and our hardware partners in a single dedicated Internet communications section,” said Don Albert, vice president and general manager of Skype North America. “Our research suggests that when users add a Skype Certified accessory like a headset, handset or webcam, it greatly enhances their experience and they use Skype more to connect with family, friends and business colleagues.”
Wal-Mart is the first and currently only retailer in the U.S. to offer Skype’s pre-paid cards. Shoppers can purchase a $20 pre-paid card and redeem it for Skype credit to make inexpensive international calls at rates as low as 2.1 cents per minute. Another pre-paid card is available in stores for a three-month subscription to the Skype Unlimited Calling Plan for just $8.85. This gives consumers three months of unlimited Skype calls to any landline or cell phone number in the U.S. and Canada.
Up to nine different Skype Certified hardware products are available within branded Skype Internet Communications sections within Wal-Mart stores’ electronics department. Shoppers will find Skype certified headsets under $15, webcams under $25 and handsets under $30 from quality brand names such as Plantronics, Philips, Logitech and more. The relationship with Wal-Mart represents the first time a retailer is bringing together Skype Certified hardware and pre-paid cards for Skype under one dedicated section.