Thursday, January 6, 2011

CES 2011 Surprise: Skype Acquires Qik for Live Video Mobile Streaming

In a surprise move that further consolidates Skype's position as the leader of the live video calling market, Skype CEO Tony Bates confirmed that his company has agreed to acquire Qik, the popular live mobile streaming startup. The announcement was made today at CES 2011, and transaction is expected to close in January 2011. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed but Silicon Alley Insider estimated the deal at about $100-150 million.

Skype made a number of other service improvements announcements,  including: partnerships with Sony, Vizio and Panasonic and to build Skype into its HDTVs and Blu-ray players, partnerships with Verizon and OnStar to bring video its services, a Skype kit of APIs to allow OEMs to build on the Skype platform, and group video calling for $8.99 a month allowing multi-party video chat up to 10 parties.

Just last week Skype made our dreams come true by bringing video chat to the iPhone, it continues to broaden its reach with each partnership; and the acquisition of Qik rounds out its portfolio, and removes a popular competitor in the mobile video space. Among the list of competitors includes Apple's FaceTime, along with Google voice and video chatFringooVoo, Bambuser and several other live video mobile apps. As I previously noted, mobile video has been considered one of the biggest trends that will explode in 2011, and with the percentage of Skype calls taking place over video growing, Skype has clearly become the dominant player in the two-way video calling market. Skype filed for its IPO in mid-2010 and is expected later this year.

Skype CEO Tony Bates announced that this was Skype's first acquisition in this CES press conference and part of its strategy for premium video services. He also recorded a short video message for Skype blog.

skype on Broadcast Live Free

In the company press release, Bates added:
“The Qik team has delivered exceptional video experiences for its mobile partners and millions of end users across a range of devices. Skype’s software enables an estimated 25 percent of the world’s international long distance voice calling minutes , and approximately 40 percent of those Skype-to-Skype calls are happening over video. Qik’s deep engineering capabilities and strong mobile relationships will be an impressive complementary fit with Skype.”
The two companies have have a common purpose, as the press release stated:
"...of enriching communications and sharing with video, across any device. The acquisition of Qik helps accelerate Skype’s leadership in video by adding recording, sharing and storing capabilities to Skype’s product portfolio. Through this acquisition, Skype will also be able to leverage the engineering expertise that is behind Qik’s Smart Streaming™ technology, which optimizes video transmission over wireless networks."
For more on Bates' CES 2011 announcement, see this post by Adrian Pennington:  Skype Adds Qik to Go Mobile Ahead of IPO - Also see these post by Sarah Reedy on why this deal matters: Light Reading Mobile - CES 2011: Skype Buys Up Qik for Mobile Push - Telecom News Analysis.

In this video, Qik Co-Founder and SVP of Product Bhaskar Roy shares an inside look at the Qik Story:

Vijay Tella, CEO of Qik said:
“Qik has worked very hard to solve complex problems that allow millions of people everyday to take advantage of sharing their lives with those people who are most important to them. Joining Skype allows Qik’s team to unite with Skype’s talented team to develop new and innovative products for our customers and partners.”
Qik was founded in 2006, and is headquartered in Redwood City, California with has an office in Moscow, Russia. The 60 employee company has built innovative solutions to capture and share video with anyone across mobile devices, the web, and desktop platforms. Videos can be recorded and streamed in real time or stored for later viewing. The popular Qik service is available to over 5 million users on over 200 mobile phones, including Android, iPhone, Symbian, Blackberry and Windows Mobile platforms, and comes pre-loaded on a wide variety of mobile handsets through partnerships with leading handset manufacturers and mobile networks.

Qik recently released its Andoird streaming app Interesting to note, earlier today TechCrunch reported that Qik quitely raised $6.3 million from Quest Venture Partners and Almaz Capital Partners.

So how big is the live video calling market?

In a report on USA Today, Jon Swartz noted:
"An estimated 13.2 million people worldwide will make video calls this year — up fourfold from last year. Some 155.1 million will perform such calls in 2015, predicts market researcher In-Stat. Military families and people separated by time zones, in particular, are taking advantage of the technology. "It is more enveloping for long-distance relationships," says Frank Dickson, a mobile analyst at In-Stat. He estimates the market for mobile-based video calls will eclipse $1 billion by 2015."
I've written frequently about Qik over the last few years and in my first Qik post from December 2007, It Looks Like the Revolution Will Be Televised, I noted that this would be the next new killer app – live video streaming from mobile to web. Robert Scoble and Steve Garfield were both Qik early adopters, and at that time, lifecasting and video blogging was coming into its own, and live mobile broadcasting created endless lifecasting possibilities that went way beyond the Dick Tracy wrist phone. Your cell phone can become a live broadcast channel. Now that mobile has become the next wave of our video communications, there's no doubt that the video revolution will not only be televised, but it will be two-way live video channel called Skype.

About Skype
Skype is a communications platform provider whose purpose is to break down barriers to communication. With an Internet-connected device, families, friends and colleagues can get together for free with messaging, voice and video. At low cost, they can also call landlines or mobiles virtually anywhere in the world. Skype has recently introduced group video, allowing groups of more than two people to do things together whenever they’re apart. Skype was founded in 2003 and is based in Luxembourg. Skype can be downloaded onto computers, mobile phones and other connected devices for free at You can get news and updates from Skype on its blog: Twitter: or Facebook:

About Qik
Qik is a leader in the mobile video space enabling smart phone users around the world to capture special and spontaneous life moments from anywhere and instantly share those moments with friends, family and followers. Qik’s comprehensive solution meets all consumer video needs including video calling, video sharing, video messaging and the ability to sync and save videos to the web and desktop. Qik has headquarters in Redwood City, California and an office in Moscow, Russia.

See these related Klessblog posts for more on Qik: