CES: Skype buys Qik and launches group video calling

The company, which has taken its group video calling feature out of beta, will build on Qik's mobile video streaming expertise following the acquisition, which is due to close this month
Written by Ben Woods on

Skype will purchase mobile video streaming specialists Qik, in order to place more emphasis on video in the future.

Tony Bates of Skype

Skype will buy Qik, a move the company's chief Tony Bates announced at CES. Photo credit: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET News

The web-based communications company said on Thursday that the deal — the terms of which remain undisclosed — will position Skype to provide richer and more fully integrated real-time video services based on Qik's Smart Streaming software. Also on Thursday, Skype announced the launch of group video calling, a feature that had previously been in beta for individuals and small businesses.

"Qik has done an incredible job in terms of [its] technology. Qik is a complement to what we do; it's incredibly strong at capturing video moments, streaming those moments, preserving those moments and then replaying those moments anywhere," Skype chief executive Tony Bates said at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2011 show in Las Vegas, where the takeover was announced.

The deal, which brings Qik's 60-strong workforce under the auspices of Skype, is the company's first acquisition and is expected to close before the end of January. Bates was unable to confirm whether premium video services using Qik's technology would continue to be branded under its existing name or whether they would be rebranded as Skype.

Bates — who has been in the role for little over two months — said video was "the next frontier for the company", adding that he predicted business collaboration uses.

Keeping up with Google
Group video calling allows up to 10 Skype users to hold a conference with real-time video. Businesses wanting to test the feature can download a 28-day free trial, after which it will require a new premium package that costs £4.99 per month plus VAT. Home users can download a seven-day free trial, after which users will need a Skype Premium membership to continue using the service. The feature requires Skype 5.0 and above to run.

Bates suggested the company's partnerships would help keep the company ahead of companies — such as Google and Apple — that are beginning to build video calling services directly into their platforms. He added that the company's new software development kit (SDK), known as SkypeKit, is a key part of the company's proposition.

"SkypeKit has a much richer ecosystem of APIs and also it [is also] much broader [than before]. We did have an SDK but this just takes it to the next level and allows it to be much more flexible in terms of platforms," Bates said.

In March, Skype removed its Skype for Windows and Skype Lite for Java-based handsets as they "didn't provide a great Skype experience" according to a blog post at the time.

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