A new version of Skype for Windows (s msft) arrived yesterday, bringing tighter Facebook integration along with other new goodies like group video calling. But while Windows users celebrated the new arrival, Mac (s aapl) users watched from the sidelines as the parade marched past. What’s up with that?
Let’s be fair. Last time Skype issued a major update for the Mac version of its software, we actually got some features ahead of Windows folks. We got screen sharing and cheap Boingo Wi-Fi access before anyone else with Skype 2.8 in January 2010. Windows wouldn’t get those features until May. Thanks Skype.
But where’s the Mac love now? Yesterday’s update left us behind, at a time when ignoring Apple users is a very bad idea indeed. Let’s look at the numbers. Apple’s share of the home computer market went up to around 10 percent in the U.S. in recent months. That grows even larger if you count the iPad as a personal computer, which many research firms don’t. In fact, if you do include the iPad, Apple is the biggest U.S. PC manufacturer.
Let’s leave aside, for the moment, the fact that there’s no Skype app for the iPad. Actually, on second thought, let’s not. Seriously, how can you justify not having presence on that device at this point in the game, when you’re a firm the size of Skype? (Yes, Facebook is even more worthy of finger-pointing, but still.) Arguably, you could use the Skype iPhone app, but in general, running non-native apps isn’t a pleasant experience, even if the functionality remains the same.
Speaking of Skype for the iPhone, where’s video calling? The iPhone 4 arrived in June, and brought with it a front-facing camera ripe for Skype. Yahoo (s yahoo) Messenger beat them to it. Considering it’s at the core of what Skype does, that should come as a slap in the face. FaceTime is strong competition for Skype, but if the VOIP company had managed to get a mobile-to-desktop video calling client to market in early days, it would’ve had a good chance of eclipsing Apple’s own service.
As it stands, Skype still hasn’t introduced those features, and Apple seems poised to bring FaceTime to the Mac next week when it reveals OS X 10.7 Lion. When it does, even if the next version of Skype also brings mobile-to-desktop video calling and group video chat, it’ll be an uphill battle for the company.
All new Macs with built-in displays have integrated web cams. All new iPhones have integrated webcams, be they front or back-facing. Apple is doing better in the mobile and PC markets than it ever has. The future of your business, Skype, is in cross-platform video calling. What isn’t clear about this picture?
Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):
- Research Note: What a Skype-Cisco Partnership Could Mean
- What Enterprise Software Vendors Could Learn from the Consumer Space
- Company Profile: Skype