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Video calls are set for a revolution

india Updated: Jul 03, 2011 20:53 IST
N Madhavan

I remember excited talks more than a decade over Yahoo Messenger with voice with family members overseas. That was when international calls were far more expensive. Now, it is true that these calls are cheaper but the key development on the other side is the growth of Internet bandwidth and higher data speeds available at low monthly rentals.

We later saw the arrival of Skype, which found a new way to marry conventional telecom networks with the Internet and made Skype to Skype telephone calls free and the others cheaper by the download of a free software application. Microsoft this year acquired Skype, enhancing the potential of small businesses and people who use the ubiquitous Office or Windows software to access Skype easily.

Last week, Marc Zuckerberg, CEO of social networking site Facebook said that the company would be launching something "awesome" this week. This is scheduled for July 6.

According to credible speculation by respected technology news site TechCrunch, it will be a new video chat product powered by Skype. Also last week, Google launched a challenger to Facebook called Google Plus. Facebook could do with some extra pull. Video chat could be one such pull.

Now Facebook and Skype have already been working together, including the linking of various Facebook features into the Skype service. Add to this the big rivalry between Google and Microsoft, and I might bet that Facebook, which has more than 750 million active users (as against 170 million in Skype) can gain big - while Microsoft can use Skype to contain Google's social push.

Putting it all together, it is clear that before this year is out voice and video calls will become dramatically easier. The rise of tablet PCs, smartphones and wi-fi links will power up the revolution. Conventional calls may be hit as the Net becomes the platform for phone calls.