Skype to Launch Video Chat App for All Android Smartphones
Skype, a provider of VOIP (voice over IP) applications, plans to launch an
application that can be used on any smartphone running Google's Android OS.
"We will be bringing a direct-to-consumer app to the Android marketplace later this year," Brianna Reynaud, with Skype's PR team, told SkatterTech.com. "This application will be available for all consumers globally to download, regardless of carriers (i.e., similar to how we offer the iPhone app today)."
The announcement marks a notable change from the mobile app for Android and BlackBerry handsets that Skype recently launched with Verizon Wireless-and is available exclusively to the carrier's subscribers. Owners of Android and BlackBerry smartphones on other networks aren't able to find the apps in their app stores.
The Verizon Skype app allows customers to make and receive unlimited Skype-to-Skype voice calls to any Skype user, to call international numbers at Skype rates, to exchange instant messages with other Skypers and to view friends' online presence in real time.
The new app coming to Android handsets, however, will additionally include video capabilities for Skype Mobile video chatting.
"Skype envisions a world where video plays a larger role in the way we communicate. The next-generation innovation involving video calling will not be bound to the computer. We're seeing a proliferation of video calling shared between all kinds of connected devices," Reynaud told Skattertech. "It's on computers (today [one-third] of all calls on Skype happen via video), televisions (Skype bringing video calls to living rooms via Panasonic, Samsung & LG partnership), and it will eventually be coming to mobile devices too."
Reynaud added, "We're betting big on video, and we intend to set the bar on mobile video calling, and it's something we're going to do this year."
However, she refrained from offering a more exact timeframe for when the functionality will become available.
On May 13, Skype also rolled out a beta version of Skype 5.0 for Windows app, with the promise of an official version to arrive later in the year. Currently available as a free download, the app enables video conferencing between up to five users.
"Group video calling is just one in a set of new premium features you'll see us roll out during 2010," Peter Parkes wrote on the Skype blog. "We haven't set prices for these premium features yet, but rest assured that we're still absolutely committed to bringing you free voice and two-way video calling."
Skype's focus on video comes as both enterprises and consumers look to save money by cutting back on travel costs and the video communications market grows more competitive. Earlier this year, Cisco Systems purchased Tandberg in a $3.4 billion deal that gave the telepresence giant a firmer hold on the market.