The internet has made it possible to share information with people around the world. But several services have sprung up in recent years that take this even further. Now it is possible to talk to people over the internet as well, cutting out the need for a traditional phone. Some of these services offer video as well, so you can speak to and see friends and family anywhere they may be. One of the most popular of these services is Skype, with a significant user base taking advantage of their internet telephone service. Skype is used in business, connecting offices in separate countries and personally, and a new app offering seems aimed at more of a focus on private individuals. Skype has announced a partnership with Sony, and the release of an app for Sony’s PlayStation Vita hardware.
The new Skype app will give a user of the handheld game system the ability to enjoy Skype’s video and voice chat service right in the palm of their hand. Vita has built in cameras both on the front and rear of the device, making the Skype app possible. The app can run actively in the background on the Vita, so calls can be accepted even while the device is being used to play a game. The game play will automatically pause when the Skype app is activated by a sent or received call. Head over to Skype’s YouTube account if you would like to see a demonstration of the app on Sony’s Vita.
Skype’s new app launched on Sony’s PlayStation Store online this past Wednesday for American users, and on Thursday in Asia and Europe. Users can expect they’ll be able to call out to other Skype account holders free of charge, but will have to pay to call mobile phones or land-based lines. Skype has a credit account that users can pay into to make those calls.
This is a serious coup for Sony. The PlayStation Vita only launched in early 2012. Its primary use is as a gaming device, but Sony has begun to incorporate applications that carry a more general appeal. They regularly feature apps that record video or generate GPS online maps, normally the types of applications users would see on smartphones or tablet devices. It makes a lot of sense, as those mobile devices have begun to split the mobile gaming market. All tablets and smartphones also support games, and promote their best-sellers through their very busy app markets. It seems that if handheld game devices want to continue to compete, they are going to have to lure users away from other mobile devices. The Skype app seems to be a great step in that direction for Sony.
It is interesting to note, however, that Skype is something of a competitor with Sony. Skype was acquired by Microsoft last fall for $8.5 billion. Microsoft makes Xbox, which is a long time rival of PlayStation. Microsoft also makes its own handheld gaming console. Microsoft did announce that Skype will soon be integrated in its products as well, but they aren’t interested in pulling it off other platforms. They want Skype on as many devices as possible, even if those devices are released by rival companies.
Following that logic, Skype also released an app for the Windows Phone early this week. They already have apps on the majority of smartphone manufacturers, including Android and Apple devices. Skype is also already on some tablet devices and internet televisions. Given their reach, it should certainly be able to beat out PBX services and maintain dominance in the world of internet video chat.