Polycom Has New Calling Card: Skype


With Polycom Communicator, solution providers can offer high-fidelity speakerphone capabilities to business customers that enable them to use the phone service without a headset and to conduct conference calls. The device also features a headset jack for privacy.

“The problem is that people don’t like being tethered to a headset to make a decent call, and with a headset, clearly you have a problem if you want to bring other people into the call,” said Greg Goldfarb, senior director of product management and new business for voice communications at Polycom, Pleasanton, Calif.

Skype is best known as a free-to-low-cost VoIP service for consumers that runs via a softphone installed on a customer’s PC. Calls to other Skype users are free, while the company’s SkypeOut service offers low-cost calling to non-Skype users.

Still, Luxembourg-based Skype claims that approximately 30 million of its 100 million users are primarily utilizing the service for business. To capitalize on that, the company in March launched Skype for Business, a set of tools and support offerings aimed at small businesses.

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Some solution providers have questioned whether Skype is sophisticated enough for business customers. However, Barry Saltzman, CEO of Polycom distribution partner ReView Video, Aurora, Ill., sees opportunities for VARs and integrators to target small and enterprise customers. On the enterprise side, VARs can offer solutions for road warriors looking to cut telecommunications costs, while SMBs could use Skype solutions throughout their business, he said.

“No one is going to make a lot of money just selling Communicator, but it creates an opportunity to talk to an enterprise about business issues,” Saltzman said. “That type of discussion leads to the larger-scale VoIP discussion, discussions on network infrastructure and network security.”

Polycom Communicator carries a list price of $129 and comes bundled with 30 minutes of SkypeOut calling time and a month of free SkypeVoicemail. It is scheduled to ship in July.