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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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.

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?

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.

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.

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?