Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Communications The Internet

Skype Makes U.S. Retail Debut 117

JamesAlfaro wrote to mention a C|Net article discussing the U.S. retail debut of Skype. From the article: "More than 3,000 RadioShack locations nationwide on Monday [the 21st] will begin offering the Skype Starter Kit, which includes the software that enables a customer to use Skype's free computer-to-computer telephone service, a headset and 30 minutes of Skype's premium service, with which a user can call a landline or cell phone, company executives said. The move is an attempt by Skype, the world's largest provider of voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, to introduce its service to mainstream America."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Skype Makes U.S. Retail Debut

Comments Filter:
  • Skype is cool (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HugePedlar ( 900427 )
    Let's just hope it's not crippled with over-regulation before it, or any other VoIP service, becomes mainstream. Telephone calls need to do some serious catch-up with free email & IM.

    I'm not holding my breath though.
    • VoIP not only needs to catch up but also be open like email, and unlike the divided IM space.
      Unfortunately Skype is not the application which connects to an open network.

      Only applications like Gizmo http://www.gizmoproject.com/ [gizmoproject.com] and many other ones (which I don't use) connect to the International Standard-compliant Protocol known as SIP.

      If you want voice chat (VoIP) on Linux then you have a good selection too (I don't know which are SIP compliant and which are not though):

      http://www.phonegaim.com/ [phonegaim.com]
      h [mozdev.org]
      • Only applications like Gizmo http://www.gizmoproject.com/ [gizmoproject.com] and many other ones (which I don't use) connect to the International Standard-compliant Protocol known as SIP.

        Indeed - I'm using sjPhone (closed source unfortunately) under Linux with Asterisk.

        However, in the UK at least I think the protocol choice isn't the main issue holding back the adoption of VoIP. In order to get an internet connection you need to either get a cable modem (NTL or Telewest) or a DSL connection (any number of ISPs running over
        • Of course, if you're shopping around for DSL in Britain, I'd avoid the company being advertised in your sig (PlusNet). I used them for about a week, and I got nothing but bad service and FUD Newspeak from the customer services.
          • Of course, if you're shopping around for DSL in Britain, I'd avoid the company being advertised in your sig (PlusNet). I used them for about a week, and I got nothing but bad service and FUD Newspeak from the customer services.

            I did shop around - PlusNet have provided me with an excellent service for the past 3 years. Very little downtime and whilest I've never had to phone their tech support they have responded to my tech support tickets that I've entered via their website in quite a fast and very technic
        • What's more, Skype is not competitive with the deals you can get for international calls here in the UK.

          I looked into Skype because we make a lot of calls to Thailand (to people who don't have broadband - it's not common there). It's about 3 or 4 times more expensive than the rate we've paying at the moment.

          I would guess that the Skype phenomenon is a purely US one - are long-distance calls very expensive there?

      • I wish gizmo would get their act together and get the linux client packaged in something other than an ancient .deb file. I can't switch from skype until they do that.
      • I love open standards as much as the next guy, however, conformity to some open standard doesn't guarranty anything.

        Apple built iChat AV around SIP years ago. Today, Gizmo and iChat cannot interoperate.

        Another example: XML. Microsoft announced, proudly, that Word would utilize XML in Word's file specifications. Trust me, interoperability was NOT in their plans.

        The SIP standard is very small and doesn't dictiate how things are to be accomplished -- merely that they are. Very nice.

        However, until projects make
  • Is Skype compatible with other VoIP software and the International Standard SIP?
    • Once Google Talk offers their service via SIP [google.com] and most importantly allows federation with others, they will become the glue that binds together all the currently [freeworlddialup.com] fragmented [sipphone.com] voip [earthlink.net] offerings. Providers that don't want to open up and federate with Google will slowly dissappear. After all it won't be long and most the people that you talk to will not be on landlines, but IP only, and you therefore don't want a provider that is not connected.

      If I was an incumbent telco in any part of the world, I would be scar
      • All depends on what Google Talk's pay scheme will be for calling landlines. You can't get rid of them 100% and you'll still have to call some business down the street for some services. A per minute rate for that just won't do. SIPphone charges $.02 per minute for calls around the US, which is pretty crazy for local calls, and having a real phone number is more on top of that.

        I imagine they'll make some sort of free call offer for listening to commercials vs a $19.99/month unlimited call plan. Come to t

      • If I was an incumbent telco in any part of the world, I would be scared, I would probably try dirty games such as providing restricted internet access

        What you really probably mean is, "If I was an incumbent telco middle manager..."

        All those boomers with high-paid jobs need somewhere to go (see also music and movie industries) but they are addicted to the power of doing not much and getting paid handsomely for it. It's a social, not a business problem.
  • by NoSuchGuy ( 308510 ) <do-not-harvest-m ... dot@spa.mtrap.de> on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:48AM (#14074641) Journal
    Dear ./ editors,

    in upcomming articles about Skype tell us (=the readers) that Skype was aquired by eBay [skype.com].

    It's important to know that Skype has the multi billion dollar backing of eBay. Whatever Skype tries out, they never will run out of money for the next years.

    • Most people either already know or don't care. I don't want a brief history of Skype and it's CEO's housekeeper's neice. It's a story about Skype going to market. All I need to know is that.
    • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @07:28AM (#14074732) Homepage
      The case here is slightly different. It is a question of money, but quite a different one.

      If you look at the people who founded Skype their previous P2P ventures were started and sold when the number of freeloaders exceeded the network capacity. They waited for that moment every single time. Same with Skype, as the proportion of people with NAT and firewalls increased the quality of the network decreased. In fact some of the analysts noted this. So did many of the users. And that was the moment when Skype was sold.

      Now Ebay is "saving" its venture by the only means possible - by recruiting an enormous amount of hypernodes from population that is too clueless to use a router or a firewall. An ebay is footing the bill for this seeding. Quite smart actually. And not entirely unexpected.

      • I started using Skype on Friday. I usually use iChat for the rare occasions I want to talk to someone remotely, but my PowerBook is in for repairs (again) and so I was stuck on my Thinkpad. On the plus side, installation on FreeBSD was trivial (sudo portinstall skype). On the down side, the audio quality is dire. It seems to be half-duplex. If I start talking, the person on the other end can't start until after I've stopped (and it isn't very good at noticing when I've stopped). The NAT-avoidance may
        • I've had no problems with full-duplex communication using Skype on my Mac, and others at work have used it on their Windows PCs with no problem. I would suspect your half-duplex issue is related to your specific setup.
          • I've had no problems with full-duplex communication using Skype on my Mac, and others at work have used it on their Windows PCs with no problem. I would suspect your half-duplex issue is related to your specific setup.

            There IS a problem with Skype not being "full-duplex." I think that Skype has to switch transit and receive in the system, sorta like a very fast push-to-talk. There's also the inevitable latency lag for each side of the conversation. This is a problem for me personally because I tend to e

  • How much are they selling this for? First of all, paying money for a boxed version of software I can get for free online seems rather silly. They are offering up a headset though, though I suspect it's probably not of the highest quality. What exactly are you paying for, and how much is it going to cost? While this might raise awareness about the service, I fail to see how it's anything more than a money grab by eBay.
    • Re:Cost? (Score:3, Informative)

      by jacksonj04 ( 800021 )
      It's cheap and cheerful software on a CD, a few minutes of outgoing call time, and a headset. You're paying for convenience more than anything else - this is an ideal pack to get people started with who may not have a headset, or not fully understand if you tell them to "Go to skype.com, download it and register". The pack (In the UK at least) comes with a nice clear instruction leaflet for the whole procedure.
    • Re:Cost? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Netscryer ( 896237 )
      If the headsets are the same as those being given out at my student union, they're just this [skype.com]. I don't know about the quality.
    • I fail to see how this is very much different from what some others are offering. For instance, Logitech offers quite good USB headsets with the equivalent of 2 hours of Skype calls to landline phones in many countries. (Incidentally, if anybody's interested, they work very nicely with Linux too.)
    • I think its a good move by Skype to establish a presence in brick-and-mortar stores. A few weeks ago I was shopping for VOIP, and if you walk into circuit city all you see is Vonage, no skype handsets or anything. Having skype merchandise out there in the real world brings in new customers that missed it on the internet, and it also gives credability to the service. If someone sees it at best buy or circuit city they'll know its more than another fly-by-night internet venture.
  • by joey_knisch ( 804995 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:58AM (#14074664)
    I initially had planned on using skype for my long distance. However I soon grew tired of being tied to the computer with a headset. While there are some ways to get a regular cordless phone to work with skype, all involve having a computer running. You can also purchase stand alone voip phones that are skype compatable for the small price of $200+.

    I finally settled on buying a Sipura [sipura.com] voip adapter and service from SIPphone [sipphone.com]. Setup was pretty easy and now instead of my $60 phone bill I have a $10 - $15 bill. After two months it paid for itself.
  • 30 minutes! OMG! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Hobbex ( 41473 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @07:10AM (#14074689)

    The kit includes "30 minutes of Skype's premium service"! One has to wonder how they can throw in something so valuable. I mean, SkypeOut currently charges, umm, 1.7 euro cent per minute for calls. So 30 minutes is a stunning 51 euro cents of value (~$0.65)!

    Deals like this don't come along every day! // oskar
    • I think you overestimated how much it is costing them.
      That is at the rate they charge to make a profit - it comes to 65 cents (US Dollars).
      Really may we expect about $0.40 (40 cents (USD)) or thereabouts for Skype's Premium Service?

      Saying that, thats a kind $0.40 or so, thanks n all. But, I'd rather stick with a SIP standard-compliant phone.

  • Where can I find a Radio Shack in Canada?
    • You can't, I believe. We're now The Source by Circut City. (Yes, I work there.)

      • Can I still buy electronic parts there or is it all now consumer electronics only?
      • Yep, they are now know as The Source. They are for the most part, the exact same, just backed by Circuit City. I went into my local one, still the same, still the parts they used to have.
        • No, they don't have the same parts they used to have. Radio Shack is gone in Canada. Those whole walls full of parts that you needed to get your ZX81 running again have been replaced by displays of cheap Chinese digital watches and dancing Santas.

          I live in a small town, and the Radio Shack was one of the best stores here. Combined with the free-shipping online service, everything in the RS catalogue was available almost instantly.

          I can't believe that "The Source" is going to last very long. Future Shop

      • A suit was filed that forced InterTAN Canada to change the branding after they broke some agreements with Radio Shack.

        There's a new site at RadioShackIsBack.com [radioshackisback.com] that explains some things in their FAQ section.

  • Why Skype is Bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I've said it before and I'll say it again until more people know. Here are some concrete reasons why Skype is kind of a bad thing. [umn.edu]
    • I didn't read your link, because I don't really care. Yes, skype should be open source. However, a few months ago I trashed my shitty cell phone (and am not buying one until American ones all stop sucking hard... or until I move back to Japan) and replaced it with Skype. Now instead of $40 a month, I pay like $5. That's good, not bad. The real phone compainies (heh) fuck you so hard that any alternative is great. For that reason, I love Skype.

      So the next time you think, "skype is really bad" remember
    • Erm, your concrete reasons are:
      • It uses too much bandwidth, which the university FUP doesn't allow.
      • It may use resources you are not permitted to give access to if you're using a university computer
      Neither of which makes one iota of difference to someone who is running their own computer off their own network connection.
    • Come on, man... Skype allocates far less net resources even when used with Spontania (video link using Skype API) than any other stuff, like MSN Messenger, etc. Just test it out. Actually this cannot be attributed to Skype developers, because Skype is using a VoIP engine developed by a Norwegian company. Funnily enough so does Google Talk, too.
    • Also, be aware that Skype, (developed by those who brought you Kazaa) is, like Kazaa, a p2p app and rather rudely uses your resources. In addition to that, it's proprietary and conflicts/is incompatible with the emerging SIP standard. More info:

      Beware Skype's Hype http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1517548,00.as p [eweek.com]

      Skype: Hazardous to network health? http://www.networkworld.com/columnists/2005/092605 tolly.html [networkworld.com]
    • So it's bad because it's a P2P client (summary of the article linked to)

      Well people who run P2P clients do not seem to mind. And people who use Skype for free do not seem to mind they are giving up a little bit of system resources for something free. What's so bad about that? Skype doesn't really try to hide what they do.
    • IMHO it is just another Google phenomenon.

      Skype, built on closed source , non standard protocols acquired by a huge company gets Slashdot community support.

      It won't change anytime soon.
  • I had the displeasure of talking with my sister on Skype this week. Apparently Skype connections are made from some form of solid lag. I've heard better audio fidelity using tin cans and string.
    I'd rather pay 3 cents a minute on a phone card than suffer another fscking skype call.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it, eBay.
    • I often use regular skype to South Korea and the quality has been great. It is more clear then a local call. Skypeout though has varied from unusable to poor. I have never had a clear domestic or foreign call using skypeout.
    • I use Skype pretty extensively, and generally the sound quality is at least as good as ordinary land lines, but sometimes you get a "bad connection" and have to redial. Also, the Windows client seems to function poorly when other programs access your sound card at the same time.

      It's not perfect, but for 0,017 it is a pretty good deal.
      • I call from Russia to the US frequently with Skype. The sound quality and latency is about as good as regular international calls were about 10 years ago.

        Also, that's not just the windows client that doesn't like to share audio, the linux client is the same. Sometimes it plays well with other audio programs, sometimes it doesn't. A simple restart fixes the problem.
    • The contrary seem to be the norm. Skype calls are quite good for most users from what I've heard and read and experienced myself. I use it frequently to call from Thailand to the U.S., both PC-to-PC and PC-to-land line. PC-to-PC with broadband on each end is very good, good sound quality and latency is noticable but not annoying. To land lines my calls are usually quite good - sometimes the call gets dropped and I have to call again. But quality and latency are pretty good.
    • The sound quality of Skype seems to vary with the equipment you use. When I use skype from my home built desktop that uses all the cheapest parts, I find that quality is bad with a terrible echo even if using a good headset. On a kind of cheap Toshiba it's acceptable with a good headphone. With my Dell Inspiron 8200 laptop which has a built in microphone and good sound system, the quality is fantastic using NO headset. No echo, no tinny "speakerphone" sound on the other end. And Skype is cheap, cheap,
    • Thats odd.

      My father in law called us from the states last week to test the connection. He reported he got a better connection calling us in Norway, than he did calling a friend in Texas (my inlaws are in WV). My guess is that it all depends on 'the last mile' of copper, from the remote server to the receiver of the call.

      That, and I guess the amouth ot traffic on the network would also affect the call quality. We off course have the benifit of six hours time difference, so when he call us in the afternoo

    • I have used skype many time to ring the US from the UK. It is alot cheaper and it actually better quality than our landline. And as freephone numbers are now free on skype I can ring freephone US number for free when they arent free on a landline.
  • ...go with the CIT200 [linksys.com] instead. I don't usually plug commercial products like this, but in my opinion it's the first device which provides a legitimate VoIP landline alternative for home users.
    • Does hardware like this have driver support for Windows XP x64? Does it ever output on the wrong soundcard causing problems?
      • Unfortunately, at the moment there are no 64-bit drivers for this device. This also caused me to reconsider, but I'm willing to run it on a secondary PC if there isn't support when I eventually upgrade. The cit200.exe application only takes about 5MB of RAM so you can run it on a fairly low-end machine if need be.

        It did initially conflict with my primary sound device, a problem I've experienced with other Skype handsets as well. There is a very simple solution but it isn't widely publicised. In the Sound

  • by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @07:53AM (#14074767) Journal
    Because we all know how well they handled the :CueCat ;)
    • I wonder how any real hardware geek can have bad feeling about radio shack. Sure the prices are high, sales people are only slightly more clueful than the customers. OTOH, they are the electronics chain, and when one is a kid, it is hard to go to or be taken seriously at the real electronics shop, and circuit city would not know wire markers if one were shoved up thier butt. It is the thing top make fun of them now, but how many people got thier first computer, or thier first laptop, from Radio Shack. R
    • Speaking of the kit mentioned
      1 your better selling RadioShacks have had them since wednsday
      2 what you get is a ten dollar earpiece, the cd and the skype code card
      3 its oddly enough $9.99
      4 the usb headset or skype Phone would be better quality

      Speaking of that Foul Funky Feline
      its hard to sell something that comes in @ disco pricing
  • My headset (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nighty5 ( 615965 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @08:00AM (#14074783)
    Skype is great.

    I bought a powerbook about 5 months ago, and whilst overseas working (I'm Australian) I bought a headset from an Apple store in NYC in Soho.

    It was around $60 USD or something like that.

    Plantronics .Audio 85 Headphone:
    http://www.macaudiopro.com/articles/viewarticle.js p?id=33411 [macaudiopro.com]

    Highly recommended.

    Comes with a DSP, and is USB. A LONG cable with a comfortable headset thats foldable a big bonus for frequently travellers like myself.

    I was totally impressed on the mac, no drivers to install, and it Just Worked. Skype detects it as a Plantronics in Skype config.

    Totally cool..
  • by Newer Guy ( 520108 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @08:23AM (#14074839)
    Literally all VOIP providers have statdardized on SIP for their protocol. This means that a Sipura VOIP box can work with any of them - EXCEPT Skype! Skype uses their own protocol that's incompatble. This is why you CAN't use them with a VOIP box such as the Sipura or Linksys. Skype only works with a computer. This relegates it to 'toy' or hobbyist status. Until they come out with an inexpensive (around 50 dollar) VOIP box that's easy to configure and works with a standard telephone, the masses will NOT use Skype except as a novelty.
    • the masses will NOT use Skype except as a novelty.

      3,626,876 Users online -- I think that masses have decided otherwise...
      • Yes, those masses also decided to use Windows.

        Keep with the masses, I stay on open protocols.

        I am not a big open source advocate but for communications, there SHOULD be open protocols not controlled by some company.

        I think Gizmo project does deserve the support. http://www.gizmoproject.com/ [gizmoproject.com] . It is built on open, tested protocols such as REAL SIP. Skype has nothing to do with SIP as parent reminds,

        This time, I won't comment about Kazaa :)
        • I am all for open standards, actually I'm for open source too. I was just stating a fact..

          I just downloaded Gizmo and I give up to install it, what stopped me was Gizmo User Agreement: it says that it doesn't guarantee that it doesn't contain viruses or other malicious code.. blah blah, I'm not going to install anything like that, if it were GPL code at least I would have known that somebody can take a look at it (if not myself). I'm sure others will not be bothered by that, but I am. It's one thing to get
          • Skype does have such a guarantee?

            That will be one first on IT World.

            Nothing comes with such a guarantee in a World people sueing restaurants for making them fat!
            • In short: no. Take a look:

              "Skype emphasizes that it will only incorporate such third party software or technology for the purpose of (a) adding new or additional functionality or (b) improving the technical performance of the Skype Software. Any such third party software or technology that is incorporated in the Skype Software falls under the scope of this Agreement. Any and all other third party software or technology that may be distributed together with the Skype Software will be subject to you explicitl
  • Guillemot has a bundle with a headset and Skype, with 30 minutes of SkypeOut included. http://www.skype.com/company/news/2004/guillemotla unch.html/ [skype.com]
    Wasn't this available in the USA ?
  • I've just done a round-up of some cool products which let you use Skype away from the computer which may be of use to Skype fans. You can find it here [nyud.net].
  • Well, not the same exact thing, but Skype reps here in London were handing out little packages with a mini CD with Windows software (Mac, Linux, and Pocket PC users had to go to the website), the 30 minute card, and a little earbud with mic. Of course, I would recommend getting a real headset.

    Oh, and those that say that Skype will never be big until it uses SIP: the fact of the matter is, it already is huge in Europe and some other parts of the world (3,402,086 users are currently online, according to my
  • "More than 3,000 RadioShack locations nationwide on Monday [the 21st] will begin offering the Skype Starter Kit,

    Would you like batteries with that?
  • This should increase the shares on Radio Shack stock by a couple of points but when the bigger fish get to selling the stock will dip back down.Even still congrats on Skype making it on the shelves of a national retailer stores.

  • You really should check voipbuster [voipbuster.com], wich allow free calls to land lines in these countries: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United States.

    Superb hosting [tinyurl.com] 2400MB Storage, 120GB bandwidth, ssh, $7.95
  • After resisting a close-dsource proprietary app, I tried Skype last night.

    After much frustration with firewalls with other apps (notably Wengophone), I was impressed by Skype's NAT traversal. It WAS configurationless.

    Unfortunately, Skype's ALSA sound support on Linux is in the stone age. Who codes for OSS anymore? Using ALSA's OSS emulation, anywhere between 5 and ten minutes into a call, Skype would hang my entire sound system, requiring the ALSA modules be unloaded and reloaded.

    And we are now left to the
  • At Staples [staples.com], where I work, we've been selling Skype kits for over a month. I wonder, then, how this Radioshack deal constitutes a U.S. Retail debut.

    No, you can't find the phones on the staples.com website, unfortunately. I found this out the hard way when a guy who had been buying quite a few for some out-of-country employees of his came in to buy more than we had in stock, and I had to get them from another store rather than just ship them to him from an online order.
  • Skype and Vonage offer Interet based calling right? Well, why not just use google talk (which I have found to be seemless in p2p chat) or any of the other chat programs that offer voice? Paying for something like Vonage/Skype seems to be a waste of money.

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.