With Skype Qik, Microsoft seeks mobile messaging clout
The company hopes the new video messaging app will be used more frequently than regular Skype and will give Microsoft a better showing in the mobile market.
Skype on Tuesday launched a new app called Skype Qik that lets people send each other 42-second videos, a move the Microsoft division hopes will extend its communications clout from PCs to smartphones.
“Skype Qik is a lightweight, spontaneous, mobile-first video messaging app,” said Piero Sierra, director at mobile for Skype, in an interview. It’s a companion app to Skype’s video and audio conferencing software, which with more than 300 million users is a strong force already in online communications.
The mobile-only Skype Qik app an important move for Microsoft, a company whose fortunes are tightly wedded to the personal computer but which is trying to tap into the mobile market where there’s more growth. The Skype service has made the jump to mobile phones, but it’s used infrequently. That’s in strong contrast to competing products like Apple Facetime, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, and countless text-messaging apps geared for frequent, quick missives.
More than half of new Skype users join with its mobile apps, but Skype wants a better showing in the mobile market. “It’s a desktop service that migrated into mobile, so it’s been challenging,” Sierra said.
You’ll likely recognize some Skype Qik features from other apps. People sign up for the service with their phone numbers, not usernames and passwords, an approach used by messaging apps such asFacebook’s WhatsApp and Rakuten’s Viber. The messages vanish after two weeks, a nod to the “ephemeral” design of Snapchat. The videos are limited in length, like Twitter’s Vine, though they’re seven times longer. And the videos are square, an aspect ratio familiar to anyone who spends time with the Instagram photo-sharing service.
Microsoft’s Skype division is making a big deal of the app. It released Skype Qik in 21 languages for Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone.
The typical Skype video call today lasts 40 minutes on average but takes place infrequently, Sierra said. Skype Qik is designed to involve people much more frequently but in short bursts, he said.
“Skype calls in reality are something you do every two or three weeks,” Sierra said. “What do we do between those times?” Skype Qik, he hopes.