Skype to release group video chat and more

According to the Washington Post, Skype is planning a major improvement to its online calling and video chat service. Next week, the company will be rolling out the ability to do group video chats with up to five participants. However, the news isn't all good.

According to Skype's general manager of consumer business, Neil Stevens, the company plans to initially launch the feature for Windows based computers as a free addition to their current services. Mac support will follow later in the year. After three or four months, Skype plans to charge for the new functionality. This will be in addition to other, new, paid, features that will be rolling out at the same time. There's no word on what those other features are.

A competing service called Oovoo, recently changed their group video chatting into a paid service. They offer the functionality at a monthly fee, or at 10 cents per minute, per user. Previously, the service was free. Perhaps Skype wants to ensure that people don't flock elsewhere for all their video chatting needs. By starting it as a free service, Skype will attempt to get users hooked on the new feature so that when they begin charging, people will stick around.

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mrp04 said,
Skype plans to charge after the beta. It is total bull****, why should they charge for peer-to-peer communication? Do they think they're Microsoft with Xbox Live?
You don't know it'll be P2P. Video conferencing can take a LOT of bandwidth, and often has to be supported by a central service.

Kirkburn said,
You don't know it'll be P2P. Video conferencing can take a LOT of bandwidth, and often has to be supported by a central service.

Heh, well you're wrong on two counts. One, video chats are RARELY run through a centralized server due to latency and bandwidth per user.

SECOND, skype has no centralized servers for anything except logins. It's all P2P.

cybertimber2008 said,
Heh, well you're wrong on two counts. One, video chats are RARELY run through a centralized server due to latency and bandwidth per user.

SECOND, skype has no centralized servers for anything except logins. It's all P2P.

I know, I use Skype. I was intending to say that GROUP video conferencing has these.

amon91 said,
They'll probably need to charge for it due to overwhelming bandwidth needs.

out of curioisty, is any of the bandwidth on their networks? is there a server on their end all your calls/etc are routed through? or is it completely peer to peer?

alfaaqua said,
WHY?

Why do they need to charge for it? If they dont charge for it, they will gain more marketshare vs this Oovoo product.

Just maybe ... because it costs money?

Jondalar said,
There goes skype again with there stupid ideas.. first is was verizon only blackberry app now this, another nail in the coffin. Guess im just gonna have to find something else.
How on earth is this a stupid idea?

opensuse said,
Can't people run two instances of Skype and video chat for free?
#1 calls #2 & #3 then #2 calls #3.
Well, maybe. But you wouldn't, because that's silly.

opensuse said,
Can't people run two instances of Skype and video chat for free?
#1 calls #2 & #3 then #2 calls #3.

Only if they have those many webcams. But still it's nice to have this in Skype so Windows Live Messenger Wave 5 will copy it finally where it's long overdue. Maybe for free.

Seriously? A company needs to make money, otherwise they couldn't bring you services like this. Whether it's P2P or not, a lot of money has gone into development and QA for the feature. One on one video calls will still be free, why is it so outrageous they would charge for a premium service that's probably of most use to businesses anyway?

Also, considering how cheap Skypes paid services are now, I think it's reasonable to assume that the price for this service is not gonna be too expensive either.

Dwarden said,
Google finally should roll something like Skype based on opensource secured platforms around XMPP , Theora, CELT. HTML5 etc. (aka something better than Gtalk)

that might Skype bring back on real innovations

You know, they probably will. I've been waiting for video conference on skype for a long time. I have to say, this as a paid service is disappointing to say the least.

I was so happy when I read the title and then cried looking at how we have to pay for the service..just when I thought my mom, me, sister, and brother can video chat at the same time

:: Lyon :: said,
I was so happy when I read the title and then cried looking at how we have to pay for the service..just when I thought my mom, me, sister, and brother can video chat at the same time
Why not wait and see how much it costs, and consider ... well ... paying for it?

I enjoy using Skypeâ€"it's efficient, free and everyone is using it. Although I have to say that if Skype is turning into a paid service, I might not use the program as much as I do right now. The strategy is perfect of course, start as a free service and when people get attached to your product you can eventually charge them for using it. But if Oovoo is making their users pay for video chats and phone calls, then Skype might be better off as a totally free service.

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