Skype reveals 10-way video conferencing

9 Sep 2010

Voice over IP player Skype has released a new version of Skype 5.0 that bumps up its five-way beta video calling function to allow for 10 video callers at the same time.

According to Skype, once all callers have this update, they can partake in 10-way video calling.

The system could be useful not only for contacting friends and relatives in other countries at the same time, but also for businesses. By allowing up to 10 video calls, companies could hold large-scale conference calls more effectively.

The update also includes an improved interface and has added Skype Home, where users can follow their contacts’ mood messages. They can also set their profile picture, receive account notifications and learn more about the service.

Skype has also made improvements to the quality for group calls and has fixed a number of bugs that have been affecting stability. This new version includes automatic call recovery, which instantly reconnects Skype calls that are interrupted due to network issues.

Skype points out that this update is a beta version, so there may still be one or two bugs remaining. The new beta is available for download on Skype’s blog.

Cisco eyes up Skype

Rumours have also been circulating that internet networking giant Cisco is planning to buy out Skype. The acquisition makes sense strategically, as existing Cisco products such as WebEx and unified communications services would integrate with Skype’s technology seamlessly.

One obstacle impeding Cisco buying out Skype would be that the deal could scare away Cisco’s telecommunication clients, according to Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner Research.

“If they were to own that, they’d scare all of the phone carriers in the world,” says Dulaney.

“Skype is in the business of selling cut-rate phone service, and Cisco sells all of its equipment to carriers,” he adds.

Cisco has been making acquisitions in the past two years such as purchasing Pure Digital, the maker of the Flip video brand in 2009.

Cisco is also developing its own Android-based productivity tablet device for mobile communication called the Cius. This ultraportable device will also offer video conferencing while on the move. Skype is reportedly looking for $5bn for the offer.

eBay acquired Skype in 2006 for $2.6bn. However, the duo were unable to make their technology integrate with each other, resulting in eBay selling off its majority stake in Skype in 2009.

Skype has 560 million registered users, but most of its revenue comes from almost 8 million users who pay for its computer to landline and mobile calling services.

The company has reported net revenues of $406m and a net income of more than $13m in the first six months of 2010. In its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC), Skype has said that it expects revenues to increase, due to the deals it has struck with Verizon Wireless, Samsung and LG.

The rumours about the Cisco deal come while Skype is in the process of filing IPO registration with the SEC. Skype says it hopes to raise $100m with this.