Skype launches Australian online shop

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Skype launches Australian online shop

A clicks-and-mortar strategy is a possibility for virtual telco, Skype, which launched its Australian online shop today.

Speaking before the launch of the B2C e-commerce site, Skype's Asia-Pacific vice president Dan Neary said the company would consider beefing up its presence in Australian retailers, through  displays and signs.

Neary pointed to Harvey Norman as an example where Skype-certified devices were prominently grouped and displayed.

Kiosks bearing Skype's brand were a possibility, he said, but dedicated stores were not at this time.

The recession was propelling more people to consider Skype for their communications. Neary said the company adds 420,000 users a day and that 144 million of Skype's 443 million users are in the Asia-Pacific.

Although calls between Skype users are free, the company made $US153 million ($A195 million) revenue last quarter by selling Skype-Out credits so users can call normal phones. Neary said 24 billion minutes (8 per cent) of worldwide calls were made in the first quarter using the software, up from about 6 per cent of calls at the same time last year.

Skype hopes to capitalise on this trend by directing web surfers looking for devices such as headsets its Skype branded store to buy in Australian currency, Neary said.

Vendors pay to have their devices certified and Skype takes a commission from merchants when a device is sold.

Neary wouldn't reveal how much or the nature of the commercial relationships with channel partners.

The shop is in version 4.0 of Skype's Windows software.

Neary said Skype, which is being sold by parent company auction site eBay, sought to attract more business users. About a third of Skype's callers used it for business purposes, he said.

That would see a greater emphasis on the application supporting Session Initiation Protocol, a key component of business telecommunications systems. Remote administration of users was another priority, he said.

And Skype aimed to attract more systems integrators and support channels to service that market because "business users have different needs to consumers", he said

Although there are no imminent plans, Neary acknowledged that Skype had the components to build software similar to Citrix's business application GoToWebinar, which hosts up to 1000 callers for online meetings and presentations.

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