At the Cable Show just a few weeks ago Comcast revealed that it is working on a new service integrating the Skype video chat application into the Comcast Xfinity cable set top box.
This service will be delivered on the subscriber’s HDTV through an adaptor box, a high-quality video camera and a specially designed remote control that enables customers to type Skype chat messages as well as control their television. Subscribers will get notifications of incoming calls on their TVs and will be able to answer calls with full-screen video or in a window while watching TV.
The other calling party does not need any special equipment beyond what is needed to use Skype. Read more
Microsoft Corp. announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Skype for $8.5 billion in cash from the investor group led by Silver Lake. The agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of both Microsoft and Skype.
Microsoft said that the deal will increase the accessibility of real-time video and voice communications, bringing benefits to both consumers and enterprise users and generating significant new business and revenue opportunities.
With 170 million connected users and more than 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010, Skype is the world’s most popular Internet communications service. Microsoft has a long-standing focus and investment in real-time communications across its various platforms, including Lync (which saw 30% revenue growth in Q3), Outlook, Messenger, Hotmail and Xbox LIVE. Read more
Skype announced last week that it is working with software vendor Citrix to create a new conference calling service targeted at enterprise users. The service, which is expected to be available near the end of the year, will let multiple people talk, see each other through online video and share documents.
Skype already offers a free conference calling service that allows just two users to meet online and share their computer screens. To create the new paid offering, Skype will incorporate Citrix’s GotoMeeting capabilities with its existing technologies. The new service will allow Skype’s business users to converse with more people, including users that have joined the call via Skype or through public switched telephone network (PSTN) phone numbers. In addition, it will enable rich and interactive screen sharing, whereby meeting hosts can present, annotate and highlight applications on their computer screen. Read more
According to various user reports, Facebook is testing an integrated VoIP feature. If the rumor proves true, this new functionality will place the social networking giant in direct competition with Google Voice, Skype and Magic Jack. Various first-hand have witnessed the new, embedded call functionality appear within the Facebook graphical user interface, only to have the feature disappear moments later.
It’s not clear if Facebook is developing this new integrated voice application in-house or if it is working with a partner company (such as Skype). Facebook refused to comment on the rumor.
For more, see screen shots of the reported new feature.
Companies like Google and magicJack continue to chase industry heavyweight Skype. Skype, a leading online video and voice chat provider, has been aggressively building up its service with the acquisition of mobile software provider Qik at CES last week, and a new Apple mobile app released just a few weeks ago.
Last week Skype reported a milestone: 27 million simultaneous users. On a typical day, Skype usually reports 25 million simultaneous users during peak usage hours.
A recent TeleGeography research note observes that Skype continues to grow at an astonishing rate, with Skype users accounting for approximately 102.5 billion call minutes over the past year – or one out of every five international call minutes made during that time. Read more