There's quite a spat brewing between Fring and Skype over just who should be offering people free video calls over 3G. Fring made quite the bit of news last week when they released an updated app for the iPhone that allowed video calls over 3G using the Skype protocol, as well as its own standard. The calls could be placed to computers, Android phones, iPhones, and Symbian phones. Shortly after release, Fring turned off Skype due to what they claimed was excessive traffic. Now they are saying that Skype actually forced them to stop using the Skype system by blocking them, and sending some nasty legal threats over.
Skype said in a blog post that, " Fring’s mis-use of our software was increasingly damaging our brand and reputation with our customers." They go on to say that they did not block Fring from working, but have been talking to the startup about the situation. Skype contends that Fring is violating the Skype EULA.
Fring's corresponding blog post is a bit more aggressive, calling Skype "cowards" for blocking their app. This is probably going to take some time to work out, so grab some popcorn and get ready for the next round of accusations.
Skype continues to conquer new territory, the latest being three Sony Ericsson smartphones based on the Symbian platform, the VoIP software company announced today.
"Applications for communication and social networking are incredibly popular with mobile users. The opportunity to use a world-class app like Skype, in combination with the excellent applications and capabilities we have already integrated into our Satio, Vivaz, and Vivaz pro devices, will make up a compelling package to our customers," said Kristian Tear, Executive Vice President and Head of Sales and Marketing at Sony Ericsson.
Just like with other platforms, those who own one of the above Symbian devices will be able to make free Skype-to-Skype calls to other Skype users around the world, send and receive IMs from individuals or groups, share pictures and videos, receive calls to their existing online number, and pretty much everything else you can do with Skype on the desktop.
In an official blog post on Thursday, Skype announced it is previewing a brand new version of its VoIP software which, among other things, supports group video calling for up to 5 people.
"With the latest version, you'll be able to bring the whole family together for a chat, for lunch, or even a birthday," Skype wrote. "You'll be able to spend quality time with your best friends, planning a trip, or even hosting a book club. And you'll be able to meet with colleagues from across the world without leaving your desk."
Skype made sure to emphasize that its video calling is currently in beta, meaning "there might be a few rough edges, and that it might not work perfectly every time." And to take advantage of group video calls, everyone in your party has to be running the new version.
According to an Associated Press (AP) report, Skype is finally planning a public beta test of a group video chat function in which up to five users will be able to see each other's mugs simultaneously during a call.
When it launches next week, beta users will be able to try it out for free, but eventually Skype will charge for the five-way videoconferencing feature, said Neil Stevens, general manger of Skype's consumer business segment. Other features will also be included, though Stevens didn't elaborate on what those might be.
Stevens said Windows PC users will get first crack at the video group chat feature, while the company expects to release a version for Macs sometime later this year.
Starting tomorrow, Verizon customers with a smartphone and a data plan will be able to download and use the Skype Mobile application, the VoIP provider announced on Tuesday.
"A month ago at Barcelona we wowed the mobile industry by announcing this partnership with Verizon. It seemed improbably at best to many in the industry. Why in the world would a carrier want to partner with Skype," said Russ Shaw, general manager of Moible for Skype.
Skype said its app will work on nine smartphones to begin with, including the BlackBerry Storm 9530, Storm2 9550, Curve 8330, Curve 8530, 8830 World Edition, Tour 9530, Droid, Droid Eris, and Devour. Support for more phones and platforms is expected later this year, Skype said.
With the app installed, Verizon owners will be able to make and receive unlimited Skype-to-Skype voice calls around the world, send and receive unlimited IMs with other Skype users, and take advantage of Skype's international rates. Instead of using Verizon's data network, Skype Mobile routes calls over the operator's voice network, which might explain why Verizon requires a subscription to both its voice and data plans, and why it isn't too worried about partnering with Skype.
Life is good in the international communications industry--if you're Skype, that is. And everyone else? Not so much, according to data by research firm TeleGeography.
TeleGeography says that international telephone traffic has slowed way down, halting a trend that's been in place for a quarter of a century. In the past 25 years, international call volume from telephones enjoyed a compounded annual growth rate of 15 percent. And while traffic is still on the rise, it's slowed to just 8 percent, growing from 376 billion minutes in 2008 to about 406 billion minutes in 2009.
"Demand for international voice has been remarkably robust, but it's clearly not recession-proof," said TeleGeography analyst Stephan Beckert.
Meanwhile, Skype's international traffic is booming and remains ahead of the curve, having jumped 51 percent in 2008 and is projected to grow 63 percent in 2009, to 54 billion minutes, TeleGeography said.
"The volume of traffic routed via Skype is tremendous," Beckert added. "Skype is now the largest provider of cross-border communications in the world, by far."
This goes to provide the old adage: you snooze, you loose. In this case if you ‘snoozed’ on Skype for six months, you’d loose any money you might have put into your Skype account. Up until now, anyway. Skype was caught with its hands in your till, and has agreed to pay (some of) the money back.
It’s a simple thing really. Skype is cheap. Calls to land phones (SkypeOut) are about the only thing you pay for, but even those are cheap. Those who made such calls would have to first deposit money into their Skype accounts. Problem is, it’s really hard to spend even a pittance. So your money would sit--safe and secure, like in a savings account. Or so you thought.
If there was no activity on your Skype account for 180 days, Skype decided to assume your account was abandoned and would take the money. There one day, gone the next. But that didn’t sit well with a group of consumers who filed a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit was based on state laws regulating gift cards. Skype’s action was really no different from retailers who sold you a gift card, and later charged fees, or ‘expired’ the balance if it wasn’t used in a period of time. Unfortunately for Skype, many state laws forbid this, and these consumers alleged Skype was in violation.
It seems that Skype agrees, at least to the tune of $1.85 million, which it will put up to settle the class action. Skype users who purchased Skype Credit prior to December 31, 2009 are eligible for up to a $4 credit to their account if Skype took their money due to inactivity. (Which isn’t much solace if you had more than $4 in your account.) Skype has also said it’s discontinuing this practice--your Skype Credit is now safe, even from Skype.
Stripteases from your long distance lover are about to get a whole lot sweeter now that Skype has added support for 720p high definition video calls.
To take advantage of the new feature, you'll need to download and install Skype 4.2 Beta for Windows. You'll also need at least a 1.8GHz dual-core processor, and of course an HD webcam and broadband Internet connection.
"With HD-quality Skype video calls, we can bring our users even closer to the ones they love through an even richer, more meaningful video calling experience," said Josh Silverman, CEO of Skype. "Imagine being able to see the sparkle of your grandchild's eyes or the setting of your best friend's engagement ring. Through the innovation of Skype's engineers and our hardware partners, these scenarios are now possible without having to buy expensive equipment or software."
Skype says you can expect a spate of new HD webcams to hit the scene in early 2010, including ones from faceVsion (not a typo) and Store Solutions that have been "optimized to work with Skype."
The VoIP provider also says to expect Skype-enabled HDTVs to arrive by mid-2010.
Gizmo5 allows users to make VoIP calls over a data connection much like Skype. It seems clear that Google plans to beef up Google Voice with the technology from Gizmo5. “Gizmo5 gives us talent and talent technology. They have specific tech and skills in further integrating telephony with devices and desktop and Web-based computing,” said Horowitz. Skype already provides VoIP to 500 million users, but if any company can scale up to that level, it’s Google.
Google is already laying the groundwork for its cloud computing endeavors as well. They need users to feel secure storing data in Google’s cloud, and the creation of the Data Liberation Front goes a long way in gaining that trust. Similarly, the Google Dashboard increases data transparency at Google. According to Horowitz, Google is also aware people won’t use cloud services if that aren’t fast. So look forward to “blazing fast” cloud platforms with highly portable data in 2010… we can only hope.
Spend a little time learning Skype and you'll soon discover it's much more than a one-trick pony. Sure, Skype's bread and butter is still its ability to let users make phone calls using their broadband connection, but there's so much more you can do with this versatile app.
There are the basics, like sending and receiving instant messages with other Skype users. But did you ever think to use Skype as a make-shift home surveillance system while you're away at work? By following a few simple steps, you can see if Fido's chewing on the couch again, and if so, issue a stern warning to cut it out.
You can also use Skype to record your own Podcast, weekly rant and all. We'll show you how, but that's not all. We're also going to walk you through an assortment of tweaks and hacks to get the most out of this swiss-army utility. Consider this your go-to guide for making the most out of Skype.