After an outage that stranded multiple users last week, Skype pulls an ace from its sleeve to woo its disgruntled customers, launching an iPhone app with video chat capabilities.
The app enables free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls over Wi-Fi and 3G. The app works on iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad and iPod Touch. On an iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 4th Generation, users can send and receive video using both front and rear camera while they can only receive video on iPad and iPod 3rd Generation. The iPhone 3 GS only uses the rear camera for a video call.
The app can be run on both landscape and portrait modes. With Apple's own video calling feature Facetime available only on iPhone 4 devices and Mac, Skype has a lot of room to gain mileage.
Neil Stevens, general manager of Skype's consumer business said: With video calling representing approximately 40% of all Skype-to-Skype minutes for the first six months of 2010, our users have been eager to get Skype video calling on their mobile phones.
Skype claims that currently around 25 million users are logged into Skype at any given time.
The announcement of the app is timely just a few days ahead of New Year. In fact, 2010 was a tumultuous year for Skype even as Google entered its domain with Google Voice over Gmail. Also, calls over Gmail in North America from computer-to-phone are free, a formidable challenge thrown by the internet behemoth.
This September Apple opened gates for Google Voice and it's now available for free for iPhone's running on iOS 3.1 or later. The native app grants users access to all Google Voice features like voicemail transcription, cheap international calls and free text messaging to US numbers and displays Google Voice number as caller ID when making calls. Skpye's app for iPhone will be vying for space with Google on iPhone too.
It was also a year when Skype revealed its ambition for enterprise segment when it appointed Cisco's Senior Vice President, Tony Bates as its CEO in October.
In October Skype integrated Facebook news feed and Phonebook in its new version of Windows. The integration with Facebook allows users to view Facebook news feed in Skype and also allows one to call and sms Facebook friends on landline and mobiles. After Facebook integration, the users can access Skype with their Facebook logins. Thus, Skype can directly leverage on Facebook users.
The integration plan reflected Skype's strategy to effectively cater to both enterprise and social needs. At the enterprise level, Skype partnered with business communication solution provider Avaya to integrate their IP-based communication allowing users to collaborate between Avaya and Skype, primarily to address business customer needs. Thus, Skype is attempting to gain scale through integration with other players both at the enterprise and retail level
In September Skype launched its Skype version 5.0 that added a new feature allowing group calls from 10 people. Also Skype was part of the much-rumored takeover bid by Cisco.
Recently Skype services experienced a global outage with users unable to access the VoIP service. The company attributed the outage to a problem that took many of the Skype super nodes offline, The Register reported.
After dabbling with strategies to create a presence both in the enterprise and retail segment, Skype ends the year with an app which is sure to give it scale with multitude of iPhone users, just the boost it needs as it prepares for its IPO.