The added distribution channel is a plunge into uncharted territory for Skype, which has previously been available only via download.
In Greg's article, he quotes Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin as saying in essence the move will give Skype more consumer awareness.
"I think moving into retail is a smart move by Skype," Golvin says. "It removes one of the fundamental impediments to its business: It puts the necessary equipment into people's hands, and it helps to spread the word that free Web phone service exists."
Golvin's right in large part. Skype doesn't want to run the risk of burning through potential early adopters who would be curious enough, astute enough and non risk-averse enough to download Skype from the Web. I have seen so many companies not realize that because early adopters tend to talk mainly with other early adopters, once that market is a bit played out, mainstream market adoption is a true case of what is called "crossing the chasm."
As you may know, the concept was originally discussed by master tech marketer in his landmark book, "Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers."
The first graf of Amazon.com's review of Moore's book explains what I am talking about:
"Author Geoffrey Moore makes the case that high-tech products require marketing strategies that differ from those in other industries. His chasm theory describes how high-tech products initially sell well, mainly to a technically literate customer base, but then hit a lull as marketing professionals try to cross the chasm to mainstream buyers."
One thing about Radio Shack. They are nothing if not mainstream market. And for Skype to be able to have an actual, physical product in a store frequented by large numbers of non-technological people is a more than smart market move.
Now, let's see how they execute.