What is the Future of Skype?
As I wrote in a post yesterday when discussing Comcast’s revamping of their mobile applications, this years Consumer Electronics Show has focused an exceptional amount of attention to the rapidly growing and exceedingly popular mobile market. While all of the new products that are being shown at CES have a wide variety of shiny bells and whistles, the fact of the matter is that all of the devices are aimed at making your communications more efficient and robust. One trend that has been popular in the mobile communications market has been video chat.
Just like text messaging became a trend in the early 2000’s, it is becoming obvious that video chat systems are becoming the new must-have for consumers; a trend that was arguably brought out by the success of Facetime on the Applie iPhone 4 and iPod Touch. The need to get in on the growing video communications market can be seen in the fact that Skype – one of the largest innovators of video communications – has recently announced plans to acquire Qik, a startup video streaming service that has developed extensive two-way video chat technology.
While Skype already has a video conferencing system in place, a quick look at Qik’s website shows that the startup has a lot to offer Skype, and could be a major component of Skype’s expansion in the near future. You see, not only does Qik allow users to engage in mobile video chat, but the service also allows for users to record and share content as well; an aspect that Skype has yet to become involved in.
This is important because Skype could easily take advantage of this technology on both mobile and PC platforms in order to create a podcast, live-streaming, and content distribution service. This ultimately means that f Skype were to play their cards right, they could have the potential to create a network that would trump that of Ustream, justin.tv, and possibly YouTube.
Back in August of last year, Jeff took an in-depth analysis of Skype’s video chat usages and came to the conclusion that it was in Apple’s best interest to evaluate buying Skype in order to expand their then relatively new Facetime network. However, more recent moves on Skype’s part have shown that the company is working to further improve their mobile video chat services by rolling out mobile application updates which allow users to engage in video chat sessions. At the time, this news lead me to wonder if Apple would even want to pursue a Skype acquisition if Skype were to become too big of a network. However, with the recent announcement of Skype’s plans to acquire Qik, it seems rather evident that Skype is going its own way and probably isn’t a prime target for Apple.
At the same time, Skype’s acquisition of Qik might just sweeten the deal and give Apple more justification to attempt a Skype acquisition in order to improve their current podcast system in iTunes and potentially venture into other forms of social entertainment as well.
When all is said and done, Qik will definitely help Skype to improve on their existing products and will likely give them the foundation to start more projects down the road. What these projects will be and where they will take the company, however, will remain a mystery.