Day two of this blog, and already I am ready to reaffirm something that I wrote in my opening post: There are plenty of technology options available to small businesses that are creative, even if those products technically are billed as "consumer" offerings.
Exhibits A & B: Two new gadgets from Skype that are designed to let you use the internet calling service from the landline in your home. They are being pitched at consumers and individuals, but the products could offer another great way for really small businesses or startup organizations to keep their telecommunications costs in check.
The first product is called the FREETALK ConnectMe Home Phone Adapter (pictured to the right). You need a computer to set it up, but after that, all you need is a broadband internet connection and a home phone. You pick up that handset, and dial a Skype number. The gadget can store up to 100 Skype contacts or speed dials. Once you set it up, you don't need to boot up your computer to make a Skype call.
There are several different bundles of the phone adapter. An entry-level edition that includes 60 minutes of free calls to landlines and mobiles via Skype is $39.99. You will pay $59.99 for two different service bundles: a FREETALK adapter plus 12 months of calls to landlines and mobile phones in the United States and Canada plus 200 minutes of international calls; or an adapter plus three months unlimited world subscription.
Skype has also teamed up with GE to introduce a new cordless telephone, called the GE Digital Cordless Expandable Telephone with Skype. This is the latest in a series of handsets that Skype-ready handsets that the company has introduced.
The pricing for the cordless phone stars at $69.99 with 400 minutes of calls to international landlines and mobile phones; $89.99 will get you 12 months of unlimited calls to the United States and Canada and 200 minutes of international calls.
One thing to note is that you can't use Skype for emergency calls, which is something that is on my mind after the hurricane last week. My street was completely dependent on mobile phones, because ALL the lines came down with a tree and every service was knocked out.
If you are a small-business owner or even the manager of a division at a midsize company that is trying to more closely control telecommunications costs associated with people working at home, you could see how these new products might be applicable. They could, for example, allow someone to work at home and keep their business calls managed separately for their personal calls, without requiring them to add another phone line.
Both of the products are available in the United States in the Skype Store or through eBuyNow. If you live in another country, you will have to wait until later this year.