Skype is having a busy news day putting out 3 announcements. First and foremost, Skype is working with both RadioShack Corporation and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States to provide U.S. military service members and their families with Skype starter packs, so they can make voice calls at no charge from one Skype account to another. They are are eligible for full purchase-price refunds after both instant and mail-in rebates with proof of their military status. The Skype starter packs come with 30 SkypeOut minutes as well, which will give U.S. troops essentially "free" phone calling (after rebate) in addition to the "always free" Skype-to-Skype calling.
Skype is also offering its U.S.-based users one hour of free international calling to landline phones in 30 countries around the world. Until June 30, 2006, U.S.-based Skype users new to SkypeOut, can make up to 60 minutes of free calls to landline phones in countries including Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Not sure why only U.S.-based users are being offered this promotion. I get why Skype is offering U.S. military members free calls to honor their service, but I don't see why all countries should b part of the 60 minutes of free calling promotion. I assume Skype is using IP address geolocation
to figure out the location of the Skype user and to determine if they can participate in the promotion.
One other piece of Skype news announced today is that Packard Bell and Skype launched the world’s first notebook computer to feature a one-touch Skype calling button. According to both parties, "The Packard Bell EasyNote Skype Edition notebook makes Skype more accessible and even easier to use. The notebook is currently only available in Europe."
Here's the releases in all their glory...SKYPE WORKING WITH RADIOSHACK AND THE VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS
TO HELP CONNECT MILITARY FAMILIES
(June 21, 2006, SAN JOSE, Calif.) — Skype®, the global Internet communications company, announced today that it is working with both RadioShack Corporation and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States to provide U.S. service members and their families with Skype™ starter packs, so they can make voice calls at no charge from one Skype account to another, anywhere in the world where computers have broadband Internet connections.
From June 18 through July 1, 2006, military personnel and their family members who purchase Skype starter packs at participating neighborhood RadioShack stores, or online at RadioShack.com, are eligible for full purchase-price refunds after both instant and mail-in rebates with proof of their military status. Complete terms and conditions of the offer are available in stores or online.
In addition, 40,000 U.S. service members across the nation as well as those stationed in Korea and Germany will receive free Skype starter packs via a distribution program administered by the Veterans of Foreign Wars beginning in June 2006.
“We recognize how critical it is for military families to have a cost-efficient, convenient way to stay in touch with loved ones,” said Henry Gomez, Skype’s North America general manager. “We’ve heard from military families who use Skype, and we’re pleased to help even more families connect.”
Skype starter packs include microphone-enabled computer headsets that allow people with Skype software on their computers to communicate via broadband Internet connections. Calls between Skype users are always free. Calls from Skype users to traditional phone lines overseas incur low global rates, as little as two cents a minute. The starter packs include free 30-minute calling cards to fund such calls.
Anyone can download Skype software at no charge from Skype.com.
“Communication is the best morale booster for anyone who has ever been deployed,” said Jim Mueller, VFW national commander. “It is fantastic that Skype is helping expand the VFW’s ability to provide connection time to deployed servicemen and women.”U.S. Skype Users New to SkypeOut Can Make One-Hour Free International Phone Calls to 30 Countries Worldwide
SAN JOSE, Calif., June 21, 2006 – Skype®, the global Internet communications company, is offering its U.S.-based users one hour of free international calling to landline phones in 30 countries around the world. Until June 30, 2006, U.S.-based Skype users new to SkypeOut™, a product that allows Skype users to make calls from their PCs to any external phone line, can make up to 60 minutes of free calls to landline phones in countries including Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
The offer comes one month after the company announced that U.S. and Canadian-based Skype customers can make free SkypeOut calls to any landline or mobile phones in the U.S. or Canada until the end of the year. Previously, Skype users in both countries were required to pay for Skype calls from their PCs to traditional telephones.
“With free calling within the United States and Canada until the end of the year, and one hour of free international calling until the end of the month, we are making it incredibly convenient for our U.S. Skype users to keep in touch with friends, family and business associates,” said Henry Gomez, general manager, Skype North America.
As part of the company’s activities to solidify Skype’s position as the Internet’s voice communication tool of choice, Skype has plans later this summer to offer its U.S.-based users free international calling periods to select countries.
As of today, all existing U.S.-based users who are new to SkypeOut and opt-in to receive Skype emails will receive an email when they log onto Skype. The email contains a link that users click to redeem 60 minutes of free international calling using SkypeOut. Users can then start making free international calls to 30 countries immediately.
The full list of countries included in the promotion:
19. New Zealand
29. United States
30. United Kingdom
Skype users will also now have the chance to benefit from Skype’s premium products and online calling capabilities. Some of these products include sending SMS messages to mobile phones, purchasing ring tones or buying a picture to personalize their Skype profile.PACKARD BELL & SKYPE ANNOUNCE THE WORLD’S FIRST “SKYPE EDITION” NOTEBOOK
BUILT-IN WEBCAM WITH ONE-TOUCH SKYPE CALLING BUTTON
PRELOADED WITH SKYPE SOFTWARE
HIGH-PERFORMANCE INTEL DUAL-CORE PROCESSOR
LUXEMBOURG & PARIS, June 21st 2006, Packard Bell, one of the leading home PC brands in Europe, and Skype, the global communications company, today announced the launch of the world’s first notebook computer to feature a one-touch Skype calling button.
Thanks to its functional design and affordable price, the Packard Bell EasyNote Skype Edition notebook makes Skype more accessible and even easier to use. Answering and placing Skype calls is now as easy as using a traditional phone, with all the added benefits of things like video calling, instant messaging and group calling.
The Skype calling button is located next to the integrated webcam on the upper level of the 14-inch display. By pressing the button the user can answer incoming calls or open the Skype address book to make a call. The notebook was also designed to be optimized with Intel dual-core processors. The EasyNote Skype Edition features built-in broadband and wireless connectivity, and an original Packard Bell design. Pre-loaded Skype software and the Skype button are just a couple of the many features available on the innovative notebook.
“Our vision is to make products that are easier to use through innovation and design,” said Aymar de-Lencquesaing, CEO of Packard Bell. “We share this vision with Skype and our EasyNote Skype Edition is a major milestone in our partnership. We are thrilled to announce this future bestseller today, together with Skype.”
“This innovative design by Packard Bell provides the Skype community with an even easier way to keep in touch with family and friends, furthering our ambition to enable the world’s conversations,” said Rajiv Dutta, President, Skype. “Packard Bell is a valuable strategic partner that has contributed to our growth in Europe; it’s a brand that consumers across Europe know and trust.”
Packard Bell and Skype began their strategic partnership two years ago when Packard Bell was one of the first computer makers to pre-load the Skype software on its PCs. It was an important move for Skype, as it boosted its ability to reach a large consumer audience by associating itself with one of Europe’s most popular and trusted consumer PC brands.
EasyNote Skype Edition – Availability & Pricing
The Packard Bell EasyNote Skype Edition will be available in European retail outlets from August, starting at an estimated street price of €899. Availability varies according to country.