Jun 29, 2011

Microsoft’s Skype gets iPad App

As if anyone had any doubts it would happen, Skype has just released a video chat app designed to function on the Apple iPad, despite the company having been acquired by software giant Microsoft in the price range of $8.5 billion.
Experts are taking note that despite being one of Apple’s most celebrated rivals, the new Skype app is actually helping Microsoft ingratiate itself into the industry’s leading tablet computer manufacturer. According to widespread rumors, the Skype app will come out on iTunes starting Tuesday.

“It’s interesting that this app puts Microsoft on the iPad – potentially,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. “MicroSkype takes a bite of the Apple.”
Skype’s video chat app for the iPad is not likely to be a major business concern for Apple, but as Gold noted, it allows Microsoft to have a foothold inside what was once Apple’s market. There are some who speculate that the app is merely a first step and that Apple could become integrated as a component of the Microsoft Windows Live suite, which currently already includes instant messaging, e-mail services and whatever else in between. “Live is directly competitive to what Apple is doing,” Gold commented.
Stranger things have happened in the computing industry than this, of course. Large companies that are competitive with one another for prolonged periods are not above cooperating with one another in the name of better business. A few years ago, insiders and observes coined the term “co-opetition” once the trend began to take hold as a mainstream practice.
Apple has some clear motivations for allowing a Skype app on an iDevice of any sort. With an enormous userbase and some 30 million simultaneous users of its voice and video tools during peak operating hours, Skype users average 145 million connections per month. A popular app on the iPad can only help promote its sales, with the tablet screen being much more convenient for video chat than a smaller screen on a smartphone.
Incidentally, Skype will be in direct competition with FaceTime, Apple’s own video chat product, which is limited in functioning only in a Wi-Fi environment.
Skype for the iPad is set to work with both wireless and 3G networks, though the Wi-Fi reception is not as clear as the 3G one. The new app works with the original generation of iPad with a single camera, but only allows for video conference input. The two cameras on the iPad 2 allows for both input and output.
There is also iPhone-based video chat software for the iPad, but this older version of Skype isn’t optimized for the 9.7 inch screen size of the tablet. The release of the Skype app also has the potential to quiet down some of the critics behind the Microsoft takeover.
“Recently, it seems Microsoft is getting blamed for anything up to and including the wind blowing the wrong direction at Skype’s HQ,” said Dan O’Shea, a blogger and member of FierceVoIP. “But perhaps Skype’s iPad offering will show that nothing is stopping the global VoIP juggernaut from helping to drive the next era in communications.”


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