Appolicious powers Verizon Educational Tools

Skype video hits Android, faces competitors

by Kristen Nicole

Skype has updated its Android app to support video chat, a major upgrade for the telecom mobile app. Version 2.0 of Skype for Android lets you place or receive video calls with other Android users, as well as iPhone, Mac or Windows PC users that have the most updated version of Skype. The new video feature supports both Wi-Fi and 3G calls, though you’re generally better off with W-iFi. Skype’s a little late to the video chat market on Android, with the capability already offered by Tango, Yahoo! Messenger and ooVoo to name a few. It was Skype’s recent acquisition of Qik that likely catalyzed video chat support on Android devices. Qik was a leading app for video chat, with a string of exclusive apps for carriers and manufacturers as well.

One downfall for Skype’s video upgrade is the lack of handset support, with two-way video calls limited to the Nexus S, HTC Desire S, and Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Neo and Pro. It’s a common predicament for most apps that use an Android device’s camera and/or video playback. Hulu Plus is also restricted in handset support at launch. It’s partly due to Android devices’ varied OS use, which is subject to Google’s schedule for over-the-air updates. It can cause some strife amongst service providers and manufacturers, with recent rumors that Verizon isn’t too pleased with the latest Gingerbread 2.3 updates for Motorola devices.

App stores for business and consumers

Another area that’s also losing its uniformity amongst Android devices is the marketplace experience, with the Cisco Cius introducing its own app store, called AppHQ. The network equipment provider is stepping gingerly into the Android market, launching an enterprise-grade tablet for the business sector. Given security concerns and companies’ desire to control employees’ device operation, the AppHQ store is an alternative to the Android Market, distributing business-friendly tablet apps controlled by IT administers.

AppHQ is also an opportunity for Cisco to potentially generate some revenue through this type of controlled software distribution, which seems a promising proposition for all app marketplaces. A recent study from tech research firm Canalys indicates that app stores’ revenue will nearly double to $14.1 billion next year, reaching $36.7 billion by 2015. The Android Market is a major influence in this exploding industry, with approximately 100,000 apps lining its virtual aisles. With revenue coming from paid apps and subscriptions, Google’s certainly carving out quite a business model with its Android Market.