eBay's web telephony company Skype used the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas to announce a bonanza of alliances with hardware manufacturers including Creative, D-Link, IPEVO, Kodak, Netgear, Panasonic and VTech. The new products are geared up to move Skype away from its image of PC-to-PC voice calling and grab a bigger chunk of the telephony market.
Targeting the mainstream is now a major challenge for the company. Skype needs to expand its market beyond the existing 70 million registered users to prove it’s worth every penny of the $2.4bn eBay paid for the company last year.
The internet calling company says seven deals with consumer electronics industry leaders will make internet calling easier for consumers. Basically the fancy technology will make things more traditional and therefore appealing to chinwaggers who like a lump of plastic in their hand while they chat.
Callers will now have the option of making Skype calls away from the desktop with cordless phones – such as the new IPEVO Fly.1, pictured – switch between free Skype calls and ordinary landline calls, and use Skype on ordinary phones via a desktop USB connection. They will also be able to swap snaps in real time with KODAK Photo Voice - available as a free download at Kodakgallery.com/photovoice.
Skype hope the new products will “validate the market for internet calling”. The fact that PC-to-PC calls are free does kind of help – Skype currently generates income through its premium service offerings such as making and receiving calls to and from landline and mobiles, voicemail and call forwarding services.