Disclosure: Skype is an investor in FON. Microsoft maybe somehow involved with FON one day , but in spite of the different meetings we have had we have not made any deals. Google is an investor in FON. I am the founder of FON.

Now here’s my view on video calling . . .

For years companies tried to get video calling going in the corporate market. It was a failure. Video calling has a place in the corporate market but less than in the residential market. People who want to see each other are people who care about each other: friends, family, lovers. Whereas, business executives can mostly do without seeing each other.

Still there are some occasions in business when you really want to see a person in business: interviews. And I do a lot of interviews over Skype with video. I like doing them over Skype because you see people, hear them, chat with them (chatting tells a lot about a person) You can ask them to send you files, spreadsheets, can discuss them. It works great.

So, today I decided to test Windows Live (formerly IM) and compare the two. I also tried to see if Google Talk had video but it does not. My conclusion is that you can’t use Windows Live for work mainly because Windows Live is full of commercials. The client has tons of commercials and commercials interrupt the set up of video calls. My first video call was interrupted with a Logitech commercial. That killed the experience.

Before Google, there were two ways of getting content, free with commercials who interrupted content or with subscription and without commercials. But Google invented the contextual commercial, the less annoying commercial and that has worked beautifully. Google tries to “read your mind” when it shows you a commercial so the commercial is less annoying. I find it amazing that they have been so successful with Gmail in spite of their commercials. But commercials that interrupt whatever it is you are doing, as in the case of Windows Live, are harder to put up with, especially when you have the choice to use Skype that is free and shows no commercials and makes its revenues from telco services. But Windows Live has a huge captive audience who is mostly non business and accustomed to commercials so they are the biggest platform in the world. And now they added Yahoo.

Ideally what would be best is a platform that brought them all together. Surprisingly, this is what I have in my mobile with Fring. Fring gets my Google Talk contacts, my Skype contacts, my Windows Live contacts and the contacts already on my Nokia N80 all in one chat/call for free (if you find wifi) no-ads platform. But Fring has no video. I am still looking for a video app for my Nokia that is not the video calling by Vodafone.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

No Comments

Luca on February 19, 2007  · 

Have you tried SightSpeed ? It offers you the best video quality ever. iChat is good as well, but video quality of SightSpeed is the best so far.

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Juergen on February 19, 2007  · 

Martin, me too. As such a well-connected person at Skype, would it be possible to have the Skype Symbian client released earlier?

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Martin Varsavsky on February 19, 2007  · 

I asked Niklas, but he is a perfectionist and does not want to release products until they are in top shape.

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Martin Varsavsky on February 19, 2007  · 

Interesting Luca,

Will check them out, but what i am looking for now is an app that does video calling on mobiles

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Sarunas Andrikis on February 19, 2007  · 

Dear Martin,

someone started a blog to share invites to FON in Lithuania at http://www.blogas.lt/EziukasVilniuje/218496/vilnius-wifi-miestas.html?#c311476

5 people signed up for a single invite I have within 48 hours. And this blog is not a popular one.
We lack invites, as there are only two other Foneros in Vilnius, the capital. But we think we could organize 50 potential Foneros within weeks to order 50 routers (the minimum wholesale quantity) at a lower price than 19.99EUR. It would provide a pool of invites to spread FON faster.
Would you do a special offer for us? 🙂

Keep posting the videos, please 🙂

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Miguel on February 19, 2007  · 

If Microsoft will be an investor in FON I will turn off my Fonera FOREVER!

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Martin Varsavsky on February 20, 2007  · 


I love Vilnius, had a great time there. Would love to see it Foneada. Will send you 200 boxes for free provided that you promise us to get them connected. We will contact you.

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Juergen on February 20, 2007  · 

Martin, as far as I know, there is a Symbian Skype client shipping preinstalled exclusively for Hutchinson 3 customers in the UK. Not sure about the Video support, though?
Does it make sense for FON to have a similar exclusive agreement with Skype in place?

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freechelmi on February 21, 2007  · 

Martin , isn’t it weird that you did such an article without talking about SIP video ?
Anyway : good point for your test of MSN video … I did not know this …

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Martin Varsavsky on February 21, 2007  · 


Will look into it.

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Sarunas Andrikis on February 21, 2007  · 


I’m not the easiest person to surprise, but that was it. Good to know you have been to Vilnius – without ever telling us on this blog 🙂

We promise that each and every of the 200 routers will find a home in Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipeda this Spring, starting in Oldtowns, city centres and student dorms – to help spread free wi-fi further affield.
The FON promise we are making will be easier to keep because FON not only operates -, but also DISTRIBUTES by the power of cooperation.

Looking forward to the 200 share-minded people to plug in 200 free small white boxes. Check the FON knowledge base and support resource in Lithuanian at http://www.fonofanai.lt (‘Fon Fans’) next week. We’ll try to surprise you too!

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Diego on February 25, 2007  · 


A couple of months ago I tried Tivi.com. The video conference feature that they have worked very well on my Nokia E70. I think that it also connects to SIP providers like Gizmo Project (but I didn’t try this feature).

They also have a Windows client so it is possible to have a phone to PC video conference.

The only thing is that, unlike Fring, it doesn’t connect to Skype or Windows Live.



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mantas on July 24, 2007  · 

So i think its nosens becouse internet for free i dont hear. In USA its good i belive bet in lithuania :((… I wont belive so help me to feel like in USA

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