Sunday, December 26, 2010

Fee Group Video Chat soon offered by Skype

Skype Ltd., the famous internet calling service, unveiled a new group video chat service and plans a public "beta" test of this function that lets up to five people participate in a video call simultaneously. This function plans to be free.

It is said that when the feature launches next week it will be free, but Skype Ltd. plans to start charging for it along with some other upcoming features in three or four months, said Neil Stevens, general manager of Skype's consumer business segment.

Skype also unveiled new paid subscription plans that allow people to make calls to cellphones and landlines in 170 countries. That feature particularly targets those who make calls into developing nations, where the cost of making calls through traditional carriers can still be quite high, said Neil Stevens, general manager of Skype's consumer business segment.

"A very large percentage of our revenue and growth can come from having products to call cost-effectively to the long tail" of cellphones in the developing world, he said.

Skype, which has helped pioneer Internet calls, has offered the service free for years and says it now has more than 560 million users world-wide.

EBay Inc. last year sold controlling interest in Skype to a group of investors that includes its founders.

The company also plans to focus on getting Skype on more devices beyond computers, such as cellphones. Skype has been installed on 12 million of Apple Inc.'s iPhone and iPod Touch devices, and the company will in the months ahead come out with a new version of its software that enables people to make free Skype calls over the 3G cellular data plans used by iPhones. Currently, it works only on iPhones through Wi-Fi data connections, said Mr. Stevens.

Mr. Stevens also indicated that Skype is also working on an app for Apple's iPad for release over the summer. When Apple releases a new version of its mobile operating system in the coming weeks, Skype will also be able to run as a background app, allowing people to receive calls even as they do other things.

Skype would like to be able to also provide video calling on smart phones, but has a number of technological hurdles to clear first, such as the high bandwidth required by video calls. Apple's mobile software currently doesn't allow developers to access a device's built-in camera, he noted

Skype is also experimenting with advertising for revenue. In Europe, it has tried a click-to-call service with a directories company, where an advertiser pays for a call that a potential customer can make for free.


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