Skype today introduced video calling for Android, in an app that positions the chat service as a de facto standard across mobile platforms.
The new feature lets select Android phones make video calls over Wi-Fi and cellular connections to other devices, including iPhones, PCs, Macs and other Skype-enabled products.
As more Android phones are supported, Skype may find itself the go-to solution for VoIP and video calls across mobile platforms. Apple’s FaceTime service, for example, only works with iOS devices and Mac computers. Skype, which had average of 145 million users a month, now connects all the major platforms.
That’s good news for Microsoft, which bought Skype in May to presumably integrate it into its Windows Phone platform. The more entrenched Skype is, the more useful the functionality will be.
Skype users made around 207 billion minutes of calls last year, with 42 per cent of them being video calls. The lion’s share of that time would have been desktop-to-desktop calls, but VoIP is quickly gaining momentum in the mobile sphere, driven by the uptake of smartphones. Faster networks and increasingly common front-facing cameras also make quality video calling possible.
The biggest hurdle to mobile VoIP, once carriers, saw Skype as a threat to their lucrative voice business — if people can make free calls over a data connection, voice minutes are an afterthought. But recently there have been signs that carriers are relaxing that stance: Skype announced a deal with Verizon to allow Skype calling on the company’s LTE 4G network.
A similar agreement with AT&T is said to be in the works.