Skype has added a long awaited feature to it's service - Group Video Chat. This new feature will let up to five people participate in a video call simultaneously and initially be free of cost. Skype plans to start charging for it along with some other upcoming features in three or four months. Unfortunately, Neil Stevens, general manager of Skype's consumer business segment, says that Skype will roll out to those who use Skype on PCs, and the company expects to roll out a Mac version later this year. As a Mac user, this is one aspect of the beta that severely disappoints me. Windows users, click here to download the beta version for Video Group Chat.
To make group video calls, the people you’re calling will also need to be running the new version. To use the service after you have the beta version, you must be sure that whomever you are calling has the new (beta) version as well. Once you’re all set up, it’s easy to start a group call – just use the add button to invite people into the conversation, and click the Video Call button.
As mentioned before, the two major issues of this latest update to the Skype service is the impending cost of the service when the beta is complete and the lack of a beta release for Mac (and Linux) users. There are several services that currently offer Group Video Chat for for free (tinychat.com, paltalk.com, etc) and I wonder if Skype's service will be significantly better to warrant paying a monthly (or usage fee). Also, it is a fact that Mac users are in the minority when it compares to Windows users.
I believe that Mac users are the best form of grassroots public relations a brand could have. Add in the rapid purchase numbers of the iPad with the rumored front facing camera coming in future models and the lack of initial Mac beta doesn't make sense. The only way Skype could spin this is if iPad 2.0 has Skype (with Video Group Chat) integrated with a front facing camera. That would be very cool and Skype would be forgiven.
What are your thoughts on this latest feature-add to Skype? Will you be downloading the beta? Let us know in the comments.