Skype 3G app downloaded 5 million times

Skype app for the iPhone.On Sunday Skype launched the latest iteration of its iPhone app, which now allows users to make VoIP calls over a 3G connection. As of last night, the application had been downloaded nearly 5 million times, a number that has surely been passed by this point.

There is some bad news with the good, though. Skype has said they may start charging users for Skype-to-Skype calls made over 3G as early as next year. Skype has always been free for in-client calling. There are still no specifics on pricing, though Russ Shaw, Skype’s mobile GM, said he wanted to stay competitive. “We’re not going to want to price ourselves out of the market,” he said. “I can’t ignore the fact that consumers (currently) use us for free.”

You know, Mr. Shaw, even $.03 a minute is more than free. You probably won’t find many people who will be happy about the change.


Skype to release five-way video calls next week

Skype video callOnce upon a time I worked for a Steelcase dealer in Ohio. Though we specialized in systems furniture (the industry name for cubicles), we also dealt in some of the tech stuff associated with office life, including video conferencing solutions. The most expensive is a product from Steelcase’s conference room division, Polyvision, called Thunder. A basic system installation cost $100,000 and boasted a feature list that has now been largely duplicated by Skype. A few years back the ability to quickly share your desktop wasn’t as easy as right-click, share desktop. Now, though, Skype can handle it, and Skype’s free.

Next week Skype plans to add five-way video calling to its service offering. The new feature will be free for starters, but may start to cost over the course of the year. You can bet plenty of businesses will be reconsidering their video conferencing options (or consider using video conferencing for the first time) when this rolls out. On the personal side, this is perfect for families and friends spread across the country. My own immediate family is currently spread across three states, soon to be four. It would be great to jump on and video chat with all of them for free.


Skype’s Founders Not Going To Play Nice

Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom.Less than three weeks after eBay announced official plans to sell Skype, Skype’s founders decided they won’t be playing nice. Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis filed suit against both eBay and private investors via Jolitd Ltd., a firm owned by the two from which Skype licenses peer-to-peer technology. The suit alleges copyright infringement and requests a permanent injunction against Skype along with damages.

According to the lawsuit:

The Skype companies have continued to infringe Joltid’s copyrighted works on a massive scale. Each day that the Skype Companies continue to make available its Internet telephone software for download, Skype users download Joltid’s copyrighted works approximately six times per second.

That’s a lot of copyright infringing, and a big problem for eBay, which claims to remain on track to sell the company in Q4. Friis and Zennstrom have since been contacting private venture groups in an attempt to buy back the Skype business. However this one shakes out, I’d guess it’s going to be pretty ugly.

Source: Reuters


Vivox Is Coming To Facebook

Vivox logo.What’s Vivox? You may be using the service without knowing it. Vivox currently delivers in-game voice chat for EVE and Second Life a boasts more than 15 million users. But the service is looking to expand into a much bigger market: Facebook.

Yes, live voice chat is coming to Facebook, and I just have one thing to say: Thank god for Facebook Lite. I hate to sound curmudgeonly, and no one likes a broken record, but voice chat is the last thing I want from people on Facebook. I realize this is great news for people who use Facebook as a primary method of communication. For all of you this could be really fantastic news.

I will say, the service actually sounds really cool. It offers conference support, and users outside Facebook will be able to call in to participate in real-time chat, which could make keeping in touch a whole lot easier. One of the most interesting moves Vivox is making, though, is releasing the source code to other third-party app developers.

Vivox will run on Facebook as a plug-in, so it’s not technically part of the core set of Facebook features. By opening up the source code, Vivox is giving voice chat to anything from games to utilities. It’s pretty easy to see how Facebook is swallowing up other social services at an alarming rate. It’s nabbed chat from AIM, integrated Twitter-like features, and now looks to go after Skype. Granted, this isn’t Facbeook proper doing the last, but it’s pretty close, and this kind of integration could turn Zuckerberg’s eyes to Vivox, and potentially open his wallet.

For now Vivox is testing in closed beta, and probably won’t go public for a while. When it does, I’ll be sure to let you know, probably by mentioning once again just how much I hate Facebook.


Skype Stake Sold To Private Investor Group

Skype logo.The rumored Skype sale has been officially confirmed today, with eBay letting go of 65% of the company in a $2.75 billion valuation. The sale will net eBay $1.9 billion in cash on close, which should happen sometime within Q4 of this year.

I was actually shocked to see such a low price tag on Skype. eBay dropped $3.1 billion on the company back in 2005, but they lowered the price because they said certain synergies weren’t going to work out as planned. Still, Skype makes something like $600 million a year in revenue, so $2.75 billion looks cheap.

The first news of the sale came at the beginning of the year when eBay announced they were preparing Skype for an IPO in 2010. The move was obviously meant to court offers from investment groups, and Silver Lake Partners finally took the bait. There has been no word on whether the new investors will float Skype on the stock market as initially planned.