Skype? My Brother-in-Law Shot One of Those Last Year. Got It Mounted Over the Fireplace.
If you’re among the 100 million Americans who shop at Wal-Mart weekly, chances are you’re not familiar with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), or Internet telephony, but you may be soon. The colossus of American retailing put its considerable weight behind the Internet telephony market yesterday by adding a special section that sells Skype calling cards and “Skype certified” Webcams, handsets and headsets to more than 1,800 of its stores. “This brings Internet communications to the masses,” Don Albert, vice president of Skype’s North American operations, told USA Today.
The deal places Skype and other hosted VoIP services into the mainstream spotlight and may even bring them a huge crop of new users. I say “may” for two reasons. First, bargain-hunting small-town America, where Wal-Mart does a great deal of its business, isn’t exactly technologically adventurous. Will it embrace Skype? Will it even notice it? Second, Wal-Mart’s been reporting lousy financials for a while now. America may still shop at Wal-mart, but from the looks of the company’s earnings reports, it isn’t buying much–even at price points that make it feel like it’s getting the deal of the century.