LAS VEGAS-Faced with the specter of rising competition from Google and smaller VOIP services, Skype announced Jan. 6 that it had entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Qik, which provides mobile video software and services. Online reports indicate that Skype paid $100 million for the smaller company, although neither officially disclosed the terms of the deal.
Qik's recording, sharing and storing capabilities will add to Skype's technology portfolio as it seeks to repel a threat from Google, which is moving aggressively into the VOIP space with its Gmail-calling capabilities, and a host of startups seeking their own piece of the telecommunications pie. Qik counts 5 million users, and its software is available on more than 200 phones from manufacturers such as Apple and Research In Motion.
"The Qik team has delivered exceptional video experiences for its mobile partners and millions of end users across a range of devices," Tony Bates, CEO of Skype, wrote in the Jan. 6 announcement. "Qik's deep engineering capabilities and strong mobile relationships will be an impressive complementary fit with Skype."
Skype claims its software enables 25 percent of the world's international long-distance voice-calling minutes. The company seems determined to carve off its own share of the international attention focused on CES, with a second announcement Jan. 6 that Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE Mobile Broadband network will soon carry Skype mobile video.
Skype-to-Skype video-calling capability will apparently be available on a range of Verizon Wireless 4G smartphones by mid-2011. The carrier plans for its 4G LTE network, launched in December 2010, to eventually encompass its existing 3G coverage area.
"We heard the demand for mobile video calling loud and clear from our users and are delighted to meet this demand with a mobile video calling product that takes advantage of Verizon Wireless' new network in the U.S.," Russ Shaw, general manager and vice president of Skype's Mobile Business Unit, wrote in a Jan. 6 press release.
Skype has been marketing its free or low-cost calling platform to larger corporations, a plan that hit a minor speed bump in December when a server outage left portions of its roughly 560 million users without PC-calling capabilities. According to reports, the company is also trying to raise $1 billion for an initial public offering in 2011, and robust video calling capabilities-boosted at least in part by Qik's assets-could help with that strategy.