For those who use video chat for face-to-face meetings, Skype’s got a news that might interest you.

Skype announced on Monday that its group video calling (GVC) is finally free of charge (see here). The new service will be able to host up to 10 people in one group video call.

The catch is, though, so far it will be available on the Windows Skype, Macs, and the Xbox One. But Skype has promised to make the service available on all platforms in the future.

It will make a difference for those who were paying $8.99 per month Skype Premium subscription since January 2011.

But why the change now?

According to Skype, the free group video calling is “essential to connect with the groups of people who matter most, whether friends, family or colleagues” (See Forbes).

But the reason can be more than just the increasing public demand for group video chat. Could it be because of the pressure coming from Google+ Hangouts that have been offering a completely free video chat service for years? Or competition from growing popularity of free messaging apps like WhatsApp, Line or other social networks?

At least according to Skype, the former is more likely to be the case – more and more people are using group video calls for a friendly catch-up or company conferences.

Either way, it is a perfectly rational move.

Skype was launched in 2003, before eBay bought it at $2.5 billion. But it was subsequently sold to multiple investors in 2009 at $1.9 billion, as eBay had failed to market the service against competitors. (Oh the good old days for Skypephones.) Since Microsoft acquired it in 2011, Skype has become more integrated into platforms like Windows Phone and Xbox Live.

Will it make more people move from other social platforms like G+ Hangouts to Skype?

We might not find out till it actually makes the service available on Android or iOS.

To be honest, such services should all be free in the near future. And that will be something perfectly natural and taken for granted. Not really a big deal. Who knows, maybe it will ultimately be a part of the UN Human Rights – the freedom of communication. So will be the free access to Internet someday.

The real game-changing factor is how Skype will make itself a better and multi-functional platform than its competitors from now on.



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