In the latest news on the mobile video chat front, Qik has launched a new mobile app that will now allow nearly all Android mobile users to video chat with their iPhone- and iPad-toting friends. The Qik Video Connect app opens Qik’s potential user base beyond the few handsets, manufacturers or mobile carriers the company has struck deals with.
Qik had previously launched a video chat app on handsets from Sprint, T-Mobile, Samsung, HTC and Motorola. But Video Connect, which just launched on the broader Android market, will allow any user with Android version 2.1 or above to use the service. According to the latest Android platform numbers, that includes more than 90 percent of all devices running the mobile OS.
The new app faces increasing competition in the mobile video chat market, as startups like Tango and larger players like Yahoo Instant Messenger court users with new apps that let them chat with friends and family from anywhere.
Apple got the ball rolling by introducing its FaceTime video chat offering on the iPhone 4 last year, and later extending the service to the fourth generation iPod touch, Mac computers and new iPad 2 tablets. Skype, which acquired Qik earlier this year, has introduced its own mobile app, which connects with its PC video chat offering. And tiny startup Vtok has introduced an app that allows mobile iOS users to video chat with their Google Talk contacts.
The problem with these apps is that none of them work together — which means users can only chat with friends on existing networks. That could be a limiting factor in mobile video chat adoption. Just as the SMS market didn’t take off until mobile users could text between different mobile carriers, video chat services could also see their growth limited by lacking of interoperability. Given its already large user base and technology it acquired in the Qik acquisition, Skype might be in the best position to change this by opening video chat capabilities with other app makers. But whether or not Skype will open to others — or try to leverage its market clout — is still an unanswered question, and one that could shape the mobile video chat segment.