Internet based telephony got a mainstream boost on Monday, with mega retailer Wal-Mart announcing that it start selling Skype-certified gear such as headsets, handsets and Webcams.
The Bentonville, Arkansas retailer, which earned its reputation by offering violently discounted prices, says it will offer Skype-compatible headsets for under $15 and web cameras for under $25. That compares to $41 for a headset and $79 for a webcam at the Skype.com Web site.
The Skype products are part of a larger push by Wal-Mart to beef up its electronics offerings and offer more help explaining different technologies to consumers.
After pushing competitors to the brink of bankruptcy with discounted flast screen TVs over the holiday season, Wal-Mart also said it will be offering a wider assortment of HDTVs and flat panels and driving down prices, for example on 32-inch LCD televisions, to lower than $500.
Skype, a division of auction giant eBay, is estimated to have between 170 million and 190 million users worldwide, and has been looking to expand its reach in recent months beyond basic Internet telephony, adding features designed to facilitate interaction between Skype users.