Mobile video calls the next frontier, says Skype head

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The Independent Tech

Making video calls from a mobile phone to TV sets or computers will be the next frontier for the telecoms industry, the head of Internet telephony pioneer Skype said Tuesday.

Chief executive Josh Silverman told a technology conference in Singapore that communication was moving from a "hardware-based" industry to being driven by software applications that allowing people to keep in touch using a range of devices such as mobile phones, personal computers and televisions.

"What's the next frontier? I believe it's about ubiquity," Silverman told delegates to the CommunicAsia 2010 technology conference and trade exhibition in Singapore.

"It's about allowing you to communicate whenever, wherever and however you like. At Skype, we envision a world where communication flows like water.

"The basic idea is that any computing device becomes a communications device with the addition of our software and you can communicate however and wherever you want."

Skype's free Internet video and audio calls using desktop and laptop computers have connected millions of people worldwide, from business executives to migrant labourers.

Currently, mobile video calls using the system can only be made using certain handsets such as Nokia's N900 smartphone and Apple's iPhone, but the company said it plans to introduce more platforms.

By next year, eight of the 10 leading personal computer manufacturers in the world will have their products pre-loaded with Skype software before they are shipped, Silverman said.

The firm has also forged partnerships with some of the world's leading electronics makers to put its software on their products, allowing people to make free video calls to other countries from a high-definition TV, according to Silverman.

While video calling technology has been in the market for sometime, "what made Skype successful is that we've made it simple and easy", Silverman said.

Skype last year accounted for 12 percent of the world's international calling minutes, up from eight percent in 2008.

On top of the free audio and video calls, Skype offers more sophisticated services for a fee, allowing it to generate revenues of 716 million dollars last year, up 30 percent over the previous year, Silverman said.

"The best is yet to come," Silverman promised.