Start-up set to take on Skype over video

Version 2.2 of ooVoo software now includes pay as you go options, as well as international calling and text chat history

A US company has upgraded its cross-platform videoconferencing service and at the same time launched a new plan designed to broaden its appeal to the small to medium business (SMB) segment.

ooVoo is currently known as a consumer-oriented video service that rivals the likes of Skype. It offers the capability to do video chats, video conversation recording, video messaging, telephony, instant message chat and file sharing with up to six people at a time. A further six people can be added to any videoconference via telephone.

Version 2.2 of ooVoo software now includes pay as you go options, as well as international calling and text chat history.

But it is the small business plan that seems to the main focus of the new release. The company is actively targeting the small business sector, a sector that cannot afford traditional telepresence videoconferencing systems, which can sometimes run into hundreds of thousands of pounds to purchase and install.

This is a sector where Skype plays, namely smaller businesses with simple broadband connections and webcams, but who are looking for a cost effective way to deal with their remote workforces and limit their travel expenses.

OoVoo proposition is that it allows multiple people to meet on video at the same time, like Skype, but unlike the e-Bay-owned unit, ooVoo now has inbuilt business features such as desktop sharing during video calls.

This allows participtants to gain instant access to presentations or documents, all the while the videoconference takes places. However, OoVoo promises that calls will not be compromised as a participant attempts to open up an email attachment for example.

Business users will also be able to use the ooVoo features available for its consumer offering, such as file sharing, text chat, sending video messages, recording conversations etc.

"ooVoo continuously strives to become the most affordable and dependable high quality, easy-to-use internet-based video communication experience, whether at home or work," said Philippe Schwartz, CEO of ooVoo in a statement. "With our new business plan we've made our services even more appealing to those looking for an alternative to expensive, high-tech video conferencing services."

Another feature is that the business plan removes banner advertisements from all video conversations for plan purchasers and anyone they invite to join a call.

ooVoo's business plan costs $39.95 (£24.16) a month. This is compared to Skype, whose video conferencing facility is free-of-charge, but the ooVoo plan does include pay-per-use billing as well as free calls to the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, UK and Israel. With Skype, users have to purchase credit for calls to landlines (SkypeOut).

New York-based ooVoo has 7.5 million registered users, compared to Skype which has an estimated 443 million users.

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Tom Jowitt

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