Skype Technologies is going retail in a big way. The broadband VoIP provider, which was bought by eBay two months ago, announced a deal with RadioShack earlier today that will place Skype's telephone hardware and software kits in 3,500 RadioShack stores throughout the U.S.
RadioShack will use special kiosks to feature Skype products, including the company's starter kit, a new Motorola headset equipped with Bluetooth technology, another headset from Logitech, a Linksys cordless Internet phone and another Internet phone. The agreement makes RadioShack the first U.S. retailer to promote Skype's phone product, which is distributed over the Web like a music file-sharing service.
More importantly, the RadioShack pact represents an important U.S. beachhead for Skype.
Although it now claims 66 million users of its free and low-cost Web-based telephony service around the world, mainly in Europe and Asia, North American users account for only about one-seventh of that total. That should change now that Skype will have a formidable presence in a top American consumer electronics chain.