We knew when Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion that they'd move pretty quickly on implementing their new purchase into the Windows 8 platform. Last week we learned that Microsoft was going to can the Windows Live Messenger brand and bring in Skype in an organized fashion. This week, just over a year after the initial announcement of the acquisition, the Skype Preview is now available on Windows Phone 8.
Microsot says that the free download of only 8MB is strictly a preview release and that "experiences are not final." We have discovered that some features, like getting calls and messages while the app is closed or "minimized" are still being worked on. This rungs true with our own research of the Windows 8 platform and finding out it's not easy for the average developer to accomplish the simple task of running things in the background, so I'm glad to see it is also possibly perplexing the Skype dev team. Microsoft adds that until the app goes from a preview to official launch, that, as with all previews, you may have minor problems, like poor call quality and other random bugs pop up from time to time. From the Skype details page,
NOTE: Some capabilities listed above are work-in-progress and may not function consistently. This includes, but is not limited to: call reliability and the ability to receive incoming calls and chat notifications when outside of the app.
So now that Skype's available, have all my WinPho 8 and WinPho 7.5 (yes, you guys get love from Skype, too) people already downloaded it or did you not have the extra 512MB of memory required for the app because you downloaded too many episodes of F5 Live?
When Adam Sessler left X-play and subsequently G4TV, we knew the station was going to hit a hard downturn. We found out last month that the station was actually going to cancel Attack of the Show and X-Play at the end of the year, and would change the station's focus. Since the departure of Sessler and Kevin Pereira, we wondered what was going to happen to them and the rest of the displaced cast. Today, Adam Sessler answered that question for us in an announcement, press release, blog post and YouTube video.
Sessler has said he is now officially signed onto Revision3 games and will be undertaking the roles of editor-in-chief, executive producer and "man-in-front-of-cameras," as he put it. In the announcement on Rev3's blog, Senior VP of Programming and Production, Ryan Vance, stated his pleasure of bringing Sessler onboard.
I get to greet a brand new era of working with Adam Sessler and officially welcome him to Revision3. I'm beyond excited to have him join the stellar Rev3Games team. Max Scoville, Tara Long, Anthony Carboni and producer Zac Minor have the brand of humor and journalistic integrity that made X-Play great. Now we have the former host of X-play joining us to help guide Rev3Games into the future. I know Adam can't wait to throw himself fully into the online video space and become a leader in this world as he did in the world of traditional television.
For more on this new opportunity for the former X-Play star, continue on after the break.
Ever since Spotify initially launched in the US, they have had a little trouble gaining ground. While I do receive emails every few days that another Facebook friend has joined the service, they have not had a lot of success getting people to pay fir the service, though they do see to inspire users to buy music elsewhere. The goal of monetizing the service has been met with even stiffer competition with the likes of Xbox Music and whatever Apple launches in the aftermath of Ping.
To continue operations, the company has sought another round of funding, this time in the range of $100 million from groups, including Goldman Sachs. This will put the company's valuation somewhere in the $1 billion range, far below their hopes for $4 billion. That is not unexpected, however, in the wake of disasters such as Zynga, Groupon and Facebook. With recent failures like those in your industry, it is always harder to get high valuation.
Despite these issues, Spotify has maintained growth. They currently have 15 million active subscribers in 15 countries, with about a 20% conversion rate to paid membership. Between paid subscriptions and advertising revenue, the company expects to make somewhere in the $900 million range this year. With revenue that high, it would seem the company would be better than ever on its valuation, especially with companies like Square, the mobile payment provider, valued at over $3 billion.
It is an interesting time to be an Internet start-up, with some companies with little to no innovation receiving large capital investments, and others that are wholly innovative receiving significantly less. Spotify will need to find a way to truly differentiate itself from Xbox Music, Apple's coming service, Rdio, Pandora and Last.fm if they want to compete in the over-crowded marketplace.
This week, Apple lost a lawsuit filed by VirnetX regarding its FaceTime software and service, resulting in an order to pay $368 million. The suit alleged patent infringement regarding domain name security and VPN (virtual private network) implementation on its older handsets and devices. The suit, and subsequent win, however, was not enough for the company, as it has filed a new version of the lawsuit, shortly after winning the first award.
In fact, on the same day as the win, VirnetX filed an amended suit, including devices manufactured since the initial suit was filed, including the iPhone 5, 5th gen iPod Touch and iPad Mini, as well as all Mountain Lion-powered Macs. That is a lot of new devices all using unlicensed technology and, if the initial suit is any indication, this one will not cost them any less.
VirnetX is actually fairly well known in the tech space for the technology, having existing licensing deals with Aastra, Mitel Networks, NEC and Microsoft, following their own lost $200 million suit in 2010, as well as active and past suits against Avaya, Cisco and Siemens, with a trial set for the latter next year. Hopefully Siemens will be smart enough to work out a proper licensing deal before being subject to the same fate as Apple and Microsoft.
Ever since seeing Medal of Honor: Warfighter at this year's Electronics Entertainment Expo, EA has been making a big deal about the participation of real elite soldiers. The game culminates in 12 elite squadrons from ten nations being completely playable in the game, all inspired by the real elites behind the scenes.
As it turns out, the game's research and realism might have gone a little too far. Currently seven Navy SEALs have been reprimanded by the US Navy for revealing classified secrets to Electronic Arts. In addition to the unwanted attention, the SEALs have received official letters of reprimand, killing any chance of promotion. They have also been docked two months pay for the breach.
As of today, it is not known how many of the secrets shared with EA made it into the game, but whether or not the contents of the discussion made it to the game, clearly some high-level secure information was passed on without permission. According to reports, among the information shared was details about weaponry that is exclusive to their unit. Based on the Navy's reaction and the timing of the issue, my guess is those weapons, or at least a portion of them, appear in the game either as playable or intractable in some way.
It would appear that EA's dedication accuracy might just have gone a little too far. The questioning of the SEALs by EA should never have gone so far as to even get close to breaching national security, and the SEALs should have thought more about what they were saying and showing and, therefore, not given any classified information to a videogame company.
Considering this is a national security breach, do you think the punishment of the SEALs is just, or was it just a slap on the wrist? Also, should EA be held accountable at all for getting into this territory? Let us know in the comments.
Microsoft announced this week, via its Sky Blog, that 2013 will see the end of Windows Live Messenger. The service, which went into operation in the middle of 1999, will be merged into Microsoft's acquired Sky brand, including contact migration and, into the first quarter of 2013, cross-platform chat. The move is the next logical evolution in the Messenger brand, which has seen a wide variety of brandings, including MSN Messenger, Windows Messenger and currently Windows Live Messenger.
It is not a major surprise to see Microsoft make this transition. They spent a lot of money to bring Skype into the family but, until now, have not really set about to using it to its potential. While Messenger has seen rapid usage decline, Skype has seen steady growth over the past few years. Availability on all major platforms, including iOS, Android and even webOS, has made the platform the natural one for most users on mobile. Its integration into Facebook also adds appeal to many users.
With the recent release of Windows 8, and its full-featured Skype application, plus Skype's heavy integration into Windows Phone 8, Microsoft has put a lot of faith in the brand to maintain its momentum and make mobile communications easier, cross-platform.
In addition to momentum, Skype also has a revenue model, which makes it a more attractive service to the company. Messenger has been ad-supported for the entire life of the service, whereas Skype offers paid phone services, such as incoming phone numbers and outgoing minutes. Being able to turn the messaging service into a business is an attractive prospect on a front Microsoft has yet to succeed with.
One major player in expending the revenue channel is its integration into the living room. Over the past few years we have seen Skype show off interactive living room setups, with televisions made for Skype communicating with people wandering around the convention floor on phones - all with high-quality video. If Microsoft can take this concept and integrate it into their Xbox console in a proper fashion, it will be more likely to gain traction over the limited success Messenger had in the same space.
While it is a sad day when a product that has been around since before most people knew the Internet existed goes away, it is an exciting day when a company makes a successful pivot on a long-time business. I look forward to seeing where the ideas from both teams can take Skype in the future.