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Skype's Video Calling Beta Aims to Bridge PC-Mac Gap

By Erika Morphy MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Sep 13, 2006 3:01 PM PT

Skype has released the beta version of its communications software, Skype for Mac 2.0. It is a significant move for the company, promising to further enhance the "stickiness" of its product because it allows Mac users to make free video calls to anyone on Skype regardless of whether they use the Windows or Mac platform. In other words, it has become a cross-platform product.

Skype's Video Calling Beta Aims to Bridge PC-Mac Gap

"Skype's goal is to make Internet calling streamlined and simple for everyone by providing innovative features and an intuitive design," said Stefan Oberg, director of product management for Skype. "Our community is made up of both Mac and Windows users. We couldn't be more excited to bring these two groups together, literally face-to-face."

Another Step

Skype has been on a mission to convert its free services to a viable revenue stream by offering value-added products and increasing its appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Skype for Mac is a smart development by the company in this regard as Mac users tend to be more willing to experiment technologically, Jon Arnold, principal of J Arnold & Associates, told MacNewsWorld. "It is aimed at exactly the sort of people Skype wants to bring into its network."

Video applications of any sort are very intuitive in a Mac environment, Arnold noted. "Anything video is key to reaching this audience, which tend to be early adopters." In addition, while Skype is a closed environment, it is fairly open in terms of developer applications "and that is a world that Mac users understand well," he added.

Growing User Base

Skype for Mac is a significant development, agreed Jim Courtney, associate editor of Skype Journal, particularly as Apple is positioning the computer line as a more mainstream product. Apple's recent shift to Intel microprocessors in its newest line of Mac computers is attracting PC users, explained Courtney. Also, most Macbooks come with a built-in Webcam, making it that much easier to use the service, he told MacNewsWorld. "This development has a lot of potential for Skype."

Other recent Skype developments include the rollout of cordless phones that do not require a running computer to use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services -- Skype is offering this through a partnership with Philips and NetGear. It also recently introduced WiFi phones and Skype PocketPC wireless.

Skype for Mac OS X 2.0 requires a Macintosh computer with Mac OS X v10.3.9 Panther or newer, a G4, G5 or Intel processor running at a minimum of 800 MHz, 512 MB RAM, 40 MB free disk space, and, of course, an Internet connection.

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