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There are myriad solutions for video conferencing. The most popular are Skype and FaceTime. This article explores the compatibility, features, integration and quality of both video conferencing platforms.
The video phone has been a science fiction fantasy for most of the 20th century. Although the first video phone was developed in 1936, futurists claimed someday we would all be chatting on video phones. Now that they have arrived, it’s surprising to see how infrequently they’re actually used.
People seem to prefer email, texting, and phone calls. Emails and texts have gained in popularity, as they are less intrusive than phone calls. However, sometimes it is best to have a face-to-face conversation. It is often essential for long distance business meetings. It’s also a great way to see your loved ones when you can’t be there in person.
Skype launched in 2003 and was purchased by Microsoft in May 2011 for $8.5B. The service allows for voice and video communication, as well as instant messaging. Skype has proven to be a huge success. In 2012, Skype accounted for 34% of all international calls. With its ability to run on multiple platforms, Skype has dominated global Internet communications. One can even see Skype chats on network news programs and court trials, as the service has often replaced remote cameras.
Skype operates on multiple platforms, including desktop computers, mobile devices, and game platforms. The service has clients for Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10, Symbian, Windows Phone, Sony Playstation, Samsung Smart TV, and even Comcast HD cable sets. With this broad support for so many platforms, Skype has dominated Internet communications.
There’s more to Skype than video chat. Skype first launched as a voice-only communication service. This was later augmented with video chat and instant messaging. Skype can also accept calls (SkypIn) and call any phone number, even a landline (SkypeOut). These services are not free. Skype cannot make emergency calls, so it isn’t a replacement for a land line or mobile phone. Skype even has premium services which can handle 25 person conference calls and 10 person video chats.
Skype uses a hybrid of peer-to-peer and client/server networking. Peer-to-peer networking is often used in file sharing services. The technology uses individual clients to relay messages between communicating parties. Client/server networking uses a different strategy. The host sets up servers, which take the requests of clients and send back a response. This is how the World Wide Web works. Skype uses both of these technologies in tandem. (continue…)