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Analysis for 'Skype'

  • Facebook-Skype Integration Could Be Next Big Inflection Point for Video Use

    Facebook and Skype introduced an elegant integration earlier today which allows Facebook members to easily video chat with each other. The demo looks slick; you simply go to a friend's profile page or find them in the chat window, click on the video camera icon and are connected. One big benefit of the integration vs. the way Skype ordinarily works is that you can instantly communicate with your friend on Facebook that you want to have a video call and if the friend doesn't have the Skype plug-in they can download it in 20-30 seconds and get started.

    By taking a lot of the friction out of video chatting, and by exposing this feature to Facebook's 750 million users, this new feature could become the next big inflection point for online and mobile video usage. Over the last 5 years online and mobile video usage has exploded, and arguably YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and Apple have been the main drivers. YouTube's user-generated and sharing roots exposed tens of millions of people to watching video online in the first place. Then Hulu and Netflix capitalized on this awareness by making household-name premium quality video available. Apple has played its part introducing mobile devices (iPhone, iPod, iPad) that enable more convenient, flexible viewing.

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  • Comcast and Skype Partner for TV-Based HD Video Calling

    On the eve of the Cable Show, Comcast and Skype are announcing a partnership that will enable TV-based HD video calling. Comcast subscribers using the new service will be able to make Skype video and audio calls while at the same time watching TV. On-screen caller ID will pop-up when a Skype call is received. A Comcast spokesman told me last week that customer trials are set to begin soon (word actually began leaking out last week).

    For Skype, the partnership is another route into the living room as it seeks to become a ubiquitous communications platform. Early last year Skype announced it was working with Samsung and Panasonic to embed the Skype app in certain connected TV models, and it also offers a variety of HD web cams for sale on its site. For Comcast, Skype is an enhancement to its Xfinity TV service and mobile app that creates some interesting new integrated communications and social media experiences.

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  • Skype 5.0 for Mac Launches With Slick Group Video Calling

    Yesterday Skype took the beta label off its 5.0 version for Mac users, which it originally began testing last Nov. 5.0 sports the ultra-cool group video calling feature that Skype unveiled at CES a few weeks ago. Group video calling allows up to 10 Skype users (though Skype itself recommends no more than 5) to watch each other while talking. Skype had earlier released a neat video (below) of various ways group calling can be used. The only bad news is that group video calling requires subscribing to the "Premium" package for $9/mo, or buying a day pass for $5.

     
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  • 10 Online/Mobile Video Items from CES Worth Noting

    Happy Friday. Below are 10 interesting CES news items related to online and mobile video that hit my radar this week, but that I didn't have an opportunity to write about. There were many more cool things coming out of Las Vegas, and on so on Wed, January 19th TDG's Colin Dixon and I will present our next complimentary webinar, "Demystifying CES 2011" to review everything more fully. Mark your calendars, registration will be open shortly.

    Intel "Insider" Movie Service unveiled - Intel unexpectedly launched its own online movie service as part of its "Sandy Bridge" chip announcement. The world probably doesn't need another service, but when Intel soon enabled is "WiDi" wireless display to project content to HDTVs, Insider will get more attention.  

    EchoStar acquires Move Networks assets - an inglorious ending for early leader in adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming. As CDN prices plummeted and ABR competition emerged, Move's service was over-priced and marginalized.

    Funai integrates ActiveVideo Networks into connected devices - The first integration of AVN's "CloudTV" into connected CE devices allows interactive streaming content to be delivered in standard MPEG format.

    Orb BR launches - Orb Networks launches "Orb BR," a disc that inserted into connected Blu-ray players or PS3 that allows viewers to access content from the full Internet. Cost? $19.95. Waiting to try one out, this could be a winner.

    Comcast and Time Warner Cable service coming directly to Sony and Samsung TVs - Hate that cable set top box? Soon Comcast subscribers will be able to buy a connected Samsung TV and access the full Xfinity TV channel lineup. Similarly, Time Warner Cable subscribers will be able to buy Sony connected TV buyers and see the full cable channel lineup. Who would have thought?

    Skype plans to acquire Qik mobile video service - Moving to bulk up its involvement with video, Skype plans to acquire Qik, which allows users to record and share video via mobile devices.

    Motorola and AT&T unveil Atrix 4G - Have a look at this video to see what the future of mobile devices look like - the power of a full computer in your pocket. Two very clever docks mean that users can easily view video on bigger screens as well as work with a full keyboard and mouse.

    Vudu to offer 3D movies - a first for online delivery, aggregator Vudu announced that it is currently offering 3D movies to certain Samsung connected devices, and will soon offer it to PS3, Vizio, LG, Mitsubishi, Toshiba and boxee.  

    Boxee gains access to CBS programs - Boxee broke some new ground by gaining access to CBS programs, something that neither Apple TV, Roku or Google TV currently have. No word on pricing yet.

    Yahoo adds feature to its Connected TV platform - Yahoo, one of the early entrants in the connected TV area, launches a feature call "broadcast interactivity" which allows further engagement with TV program content.

     
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  • Paltalk Releases SuperIM URLs for Clientless Video Chatting

    Paltalk, the long-time video chat technology provider, is announcing its Paltalk 9.9 beta release today, which includes a feature called SuperIM URLs, which allow users to initiate 1-click, in-browser video conferences without any client download. It's a clever feature that promises to drive higher adoption of personal video conferencing. Paltalk's CEO Jason Katz walked me through a demo yesterday.

    SuperIM URLs work like this: say I'm a registered Paltalk user (either free or paid) so I've already downloaded the Paltalk software. I then select a personalized SuperIM address, for example http://www.wrichmond.superim.me. Then I begin publicizing the URL to friends, say through tagging my email signature, Facebook page or business card. People who see the URL simply click on it and, as long as they have a webcam, are instantly connected via video chat with me. Just so I don't have people barging in on me on a bad hair day, I can set privacy controls to always require accept/decline. I can also password-protect the link so I only hear from people I want to. I can also set it so only audio comes on first and I have to manually start the webcam.

    I can have up to 10 people in a video chat and display the participants in different mosaics. The most obvious competition for SuperIM URLs is Skype, which I use for video calls. Jason agreed that while Skype does a lot of things really well, Paltalk SuperIM's big differentiator is that it does not require the caller to have downloaded any software to participate.

    With SuperIM, the caller simply clicks on the URL provided and is connected. In effect, the conferencing capability is brought to users instead of the other way around. The goal is to make it so easy that anyone's "grandmother can use it" as Jason put it. Even though Paltalk has had its client downloaded some 70 million times, Jason acknowledged that it's a "busy Internet," and it's getting harder and harder to induce people to download any new software.

    Another differentiator is Paltalk's multi-party capability, which Skype doesn't offer. This means that a Paltalk user could set up a multi-party video chat around a specific event simply by sending out the SuperIM URL to friends, asking them to click-through at a certain time (think "virtual Super Bowl party").

    Going forward, Jason said Paltalk plans to eliminate the step of even having the initial user download the Paltalk software. Paltalk wants to become ubiquitous for mobile users and other portable devices like the iPad. Jason also makes an interesting point that with the spread of $300 Internet-connected netbooks with built-in webcams, personal video conferencing has become more accessible than ever. Paltalk is also aiming for tighter integration with Facebook, so users can initiate video chats to their friends.

     

    I vividly remember that George Jetson's video phone was just about the coolest thing I'd ever seen when I was a kid. SuperIM URLs are yet another indication that the Jetsons' world is upon us.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).

    Filckr image via writetechnology

     
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  • Will eBay's Skype Write-down Hurt Joost and Other Video Players?

    The news that eBay was going to write a portion of its Skype purchase did not really surprise many people, although its magnitude, $1.4B out of $2.6B paid still felt shocking. At the time of the deal, it seemed the only
    people who thought the deal made any sense were eBay's CEO Meg Whitman and her board. Whether they thought there was strategic sense to the deal or not, certainly Skype's founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis must have been grinning widely at the willingness of eBay to pay such a ridiculous premium for their company.
     
    This Times piece noted that:
     
    ... revenue and earnings projections made by Skype executives before the sale to eBay turned out to be "a bit front-loaded" according to Mr. Zennstrom.

    Not to take anything away from the potential of Joost, the pair's much-heralded broadband video aggregator, but if you were considering making an investment in the company or any other in the video space, wouldn't this whole eBay-Skype affair make you cautious? Seeing such a gigantic writedown, and now the admission that the projections has to make prospective investors just a little more cautious about Joost, and all other video players as well.

    I'm asked frequently, is there a bubble in the video space? I think the answer is that yes, investors are getting too enthusiastic, as they always do when they smell a transformative opportunity. The Skype writedown is a reminder to all investors in the space that being optimistic about broadband's potential is right, but keeping their sanity regarding valuations is critical. eBay just reminded all of us of the cost of not doing so.

     
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