The dedicated Skype section will feature handsets, headsets and webcams designed to work with Skype, a provider of free and very cheap long-distance calls, including to phone numbers abroad. Wal-Mart will also sell the first prepaid cards for Skype calls to be sold in this country, the companies were announcing Monday.
This development highlights a dynamic we’ve discussed earlier – the commoditization of voice communications – or Phase 1 of the 3 part adoption pattern.
I can think of no clearer indication that the current trend in VoIP adoption is cost avoidance (commoditization) driven than to see America’s pre-eminent discount retailer dedicate a section of the lucrative electronics section to Skype gear.
It is clear that Skype now sees the voice communication session (heretofore know as “phone call”) as a loss-leader. Revenue is generated via the sale of licensed gear associated with having those communications sessions. It is unclear if this is a winning strategy, but the pairing with Wal-Mart indicates that there will be significant volume of sales.
It will be interesting to see the reaction of the legacy telecoms (Verizon, at&t, etal) and the emerging VoIP proivders (Vonage, Broadvoice, etcal) to this development.