By Eric Auchard
Skype, the international Web calling phenomenon acquired by eBay Inc.,
said on Thursday it is adding high-resolution video picture phone
features to its free telephone replacement service.
Version 2.0 of the Skype software at http://www.skype.com aims to make
it easier for customers to sign up and use its phone-over-Internet
services, which are free on computers and offer low per-minute charges
when calling conventional phones.
In addition, Six Apart, the top maker of Web blog software based in San
Francisco, has agreed to embed links to Skype as an option for millions of
users of its Typepad blog service, the two companies said.
The new Skype software also will allow users of the popular Microsoft
Outlook e-mail management software to install a browser-based toolbar
that offers instant links to Skype and notifications when other Skype
users are online.
"Video calling has come of age," Skype vice president of marketing
Saul Klein said of the new feature.
The deal with Six Apart will enable Web users to place instant
Web-based phone calls to bloggers via Skype, further enhancing the
two-way nature of blog communications.
The option of adding Skype will be available early next year on
Typepad, and eventually on Live Journal, a second blogging service
from Six Apart with which nearly 9 million blogs have been created,
the companies said in a statement.
"This allows you to see a button on a blog and start talking to the
person who publishes that blog," Mena Trott, co-founder and president
of Six Apart, said in a phone interview. "That is the next step in
Logitech and Creative, which collectively sell around two-thirds of
the world's webcams -- the miniature cameras used for video
conferencing via computer -- have agreed to distribution partnerships
with Skype. For quality video calls, users need to use a broadband
Skype's long-rumored upgrade to video phone calling capabilities
competes with computer instant messaging services that also offer
video phone calling features, including Microsoft MSN and America
Online's AIM service.
The upgraded Skype software also features "mood indicator" software
that allows users to let their contacts signal whether they are happy,
sad, listening to music, available or busy and other phone
These include ring tones to alert Skype users to callers and
customizable personal images, known as avatars, for which users will
pay around $1 a piece. Among the companies supplying avatars are
American Greetings and U.K.-based Weemees.
Skype and Logitech plan to jointly market Skype Video and Logitech
webcams and telephone headsets worldwide, engaging in regional
promotions and direct outreach to Logitech customers and Skype users,
Logitech said in a separate statement.
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the
daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at
http://telecom-digest.org/td-extra/more-news.html . Hundreds of new
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: But, Skype is not first with video
software for telecom applications. On my very old Win 95 computer,
(the first one I had, the Toshiba Satellite 220) there was a piece of
software which did video over phone using Logitech cameras. PAT]