Skype Dials Up The Channel, Formal Partner Program On The Way

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Skype will make a formal entry into the value-added channel as it prepares to take the wraps off a partner program -- an effort to integrate its popular peer-to-peer VoIP software application into business environments with the help of VARs, ISVs and other potential partners.

Skype will offer lead generation, marketing support and technical support, said Chaim Haas, a Skype spokesman from the public relations firm Kaplow, confirming some details of Skype's program to Friday.

He didn't disclose pricing, didn't specify the exact date of program launch and didn't confirm if Skype had yet recruited any partners, but said Skype is inviting potential solution providers to sign up for more information through its Web site. "We're still in the process of finalizing all the specific details and what we're going to be asking of channel partners and how we're going to be reimbursing them," Haas said.

The confirmation comes the same week that Skype's Chief Strategy Officer Christopher Dean discussed Skype's partner program at the VON Conference & Expo in South Beach, Fla. (A copy of his presentation can be downloaded here).

Dean said he sees Skype's need for the channel as helping to expand coverage, reduce selling costs and provide access to industry expertise, and said Skype wishes to partner with wireline carriers, wireless carriers, MSOs, OEMs, VARs, application developers and ISVs as it builds out its business presence.

Dean also discussed the proliferation of unified communications in business settings, as well as adoption of cloud services, and then framed Skype around the idea that while principally a consumer-centric product, Skype is finally seeing penetration as a business tool. According to a Skype survey, 35 percent of users now use Skype for business purposes, and Dean also quoted research suggesting that 90 percent of smartphones have or would soon have Skype available for download.

Dean noted in his presentation that it would educate service providers through an online Skype Academy. Skype also has set up a spare-looking partner page on its Web site that invites potential solution providers to sign up for more information.

"Skype is looking for service partners who have the knowledge to advise, guide and service business customers' needs for VoIP, SIP, PBX and UC solutions," the introduction on the site reads. "In exchange, this program will offer you the benefits of partnering with a global leader in communications software, the opportunity to capture new customers and to tap into incremental service revenue streams."


Next: Will VARs Embrace Skype?

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