The next wave in video communication

I received a press release in my email overnight from Stuart Jacobson at Santa Cruz Networks announcing vSkype, what looks to be a very cool tool for holding video conference calls via Skype.

Skype Journal has the scoop on the story, though, with a detailed post last night by Bill Campbell:

Today Santa Cruz Networks ships the beta release of vSkype, the first multiuser video conferencing extension to Skype for Microsoft Windows. So begins the Skype Video War. What a cool arms race. There are three groups in the race. The IM people upgrading audio and video (AOL, MSN and Yahoo!), the Skype third party developers, and Skype itself.

Two weeks ago the story was Spontania’s Video4Skype release. Now Santa Cruz Networks realeases vSkype. This means the 40 million Skype users have these features, and Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo don’t. CEO Stuart Jacobson says, "vSkype adds two cool new experiences to a Skype user: multi-user video and desktop sharing."

It’s interesting to see what this will do in this competitive space. Bill mentions the three groups in the race. I’m thinking in particular about the instant messaging vendors. Quite a bit of speculation in the past week that Yahoo would acquire Skype. That didn’t happen – instead, Yahoo bought DialPad. But, I’d say this is a hot business area to keep watching.

Bill’s post has screen shots and detailed commentary and analysis of his testing results so far in using vSkype. The post also has Q&As with the CEO and CTO of Santa Cruz Networks. Nice one, Bill!

I haven’t tried vSkype yet, but would like to. Anyone fancy being a testing partner? All you need is a Windows PC, the software (free download), a web cam, broadband network, and the latest version of Skype for Windows.

On Stuart’s email press release, I’d normally just ignore an email pitch that comes out of the blue with two big file attachments, a Word doc and a zip with images. But I did like Stuart’s pitch in his covering email:

[…] We hope to launch in beta later this week and we would like you to write about us. We have enclosed a press release and an FAQ. We are small and do not have a PR agency but we have lots of good ideas for catchy and even controversial stories. We also have many companies and Skype community members who are willing to share their perspective on what we are doing.  Please let us know how we can make it easy for you.

You did, Stuart. It’s the type of topic I’d likely write about (so it looks like you at least visited my blog to find that out). And then, no fluff, no bullshit, just ask nicely. Works for me.

Related developments in video communication – a Windows version of FireANT was released last week.

According to the developers, FireANT is an RSS video aggregator and media player that can automatically download media content for you to watch and listen to. It lets you subscribe to any RSS 2.0 feed that supports enclosures or Yahoo! Media RSS. And it’s free. (Shel and I talked about FireANT in show #12 of The Hobson & Holtz Report in March.)

There’s a great screencast on the FireANT blog that takes you through the app and shows you how to use it.

Now, if you could record your vSkype calls – I can’t tell from the documentation whether you can or not – then here’s my potential scenario:

  • Skype – your internet phone ‘intrastructure’
  • vSkype – your video phone ‘equipment’ for doing video interviews
  • FireANT – your means of getting and viewing those video interviews via RSS

What an interesting mix for taking blogging/podcasting/vlogging to another level.

4 thoughts on “The next wave in video communication

  1. Another video plugin for Skype is out

    Just out. It seems limited to the first 5000 beta testers. It allows for multiple video conference calls. Haven’t checked it yet, but will in just a moment. The company is called vSkype. Update on 19/6/05: some stats about vSkype

  2. Profile – VSkype

    Company: vSkype
    Location: Santa Cruz, California
    Launch Date: June 15, 2005
    What is it?
    vSkype is a new product launch by Santa Cruz Networks (disclaimer: Keith Teare, a partner at Archimedes Ventures, was formerly the CEO of Santa Cruz Networks…

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