News broke on Thursday morning that Skype had acquired Qik for about $150 million. Later during its CES 2011 press conference, CEO Tony Bates confirmed the acquisition, followed by some “wows” from the audience. Evidently this came as a surprise to many in the audience as well as industry analysts.
Skype is planning an IPO this year so Bates made clear that no discussion will take place about anything financially related (including the Qik transaction). The press conference was purely for product announcements.
Besides the Qik acquisition news, Skype also proudly shared some numbers. First, a quarter of all international voice calls are now from Skype, making it the largest international call carrier. Second, since the introduction of the Skype iPhone app, there were four million downloads and one million video calls were made within the 24 hours.
According to Bates, video is the next big thing. (Bates would be a perfect match to lead Skype then as he came from Cisco.)
Also announced was the 10-way group video calling feature, first to come as a Windows client. It will be subscription based, and only one member of the group needs to be a subscriber.
SkypeTV will also invade your living room as major television manufacturers like Samsung, Vizio, and Panasonic will integrate Skype with their TV hardware. What if you don’t have a fancy TV? Don’t fret — Panasonic Blu-ray players will have Skype, too.
Developers should feel excited, too, as a new, richer SDK was unveiled: SkypeKit. OnStar and PandaChip (a nanny-cam) were two examples of companies using SkypeKit to extend their product features.
But more importantly, Bates shared how Skype can be used for humanitarian purposes. For instance, providing low-cost communications to rural areas and educational institutions, and flexible enough to serve in emergency situations.
Overall, Skype seems optimistic about its future in 2011. As a consumer, I can’t wait to see what interesting products come out of the Qik acquisition.
You can check out photos from this event in the gagagadget Flickr group.