Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's Prime Time for Video Communications -- Just Ask Skype

Our colleagues at Skype have just released Version 4.0 beta -- and, of significance, the lead story of this beta release is Skype's increased emphasis on video communications. This shouldn't surprise anyone since, according to pundit Om Malik, 28% of total Skype calls utilize video communications and Skype previously had essentially treated video as an afterthought.

However, taking a closer look beyond the headline, Skype's primary video enhancement -- i.e., full-screen video (as opposed to its previous mere thumbnails) -- is nothing novel or remarkable. In fact, SightSpeed has had full-screen mode and resizable video windows for years now. Let's face it, Skype is a voice communications company first and foremost -- always has been, always will. And, Skype still does not have basic video features such as multi-party video chat and video mail/posts/blogging -- features that SightSpeed likewise has had for years. And, of course, and among other things, Skype is a closed proprietary network, whereas SightSpeed is fully SIP and standards-based (which is critical for interoperability).

Nonetheless, Skype's latest release and marketing emphasis are yet more data points underscoring the importance and unique power of IP video communications and the fact that video communications is no longer early adopter stuff -- it has entered the mainstream in a big way after all these years of promise. A primary driver is the fact that virtually every notebook computer shipped worldwide now comes with a built-in webcam. Why? For video chat/conferencing/blogging.

Expect more and very significant "data points" on this point in the days and weeks ahead. And, stay tuned right here, as SightSpeed will continue to do what we have always done -- emphasize video communications first and foremost.

To be clear, we very much respect all that Skype has done to revolutionize the world of communications, and we value the increased "visibility" they are now bringing to video communications in general. The more radar screens, the better. And, video communications can do things that no other form of communication can do -- can truly "connect" folks (and, let's face it, also reduce the stress and cost of travel/commuting in life, thereby also helping our planet).

"A rising tide lifts all boats ...."