Do You ooVoo?

Making a video call from the comfort of your home. office or Star Bucks, may soon be as common as sending a text message thanks to one tech company fast becoming a powerful rival to Skype.

Web-based video conferencing service ooVoo has just launched the smartphone applications for Android-based phones and Apple iPhone users will get theirs soon. With 18 million global users and growing, ooVoo looks to make video conferencing a part of everyday life and has set its sights on dethroning the 800-pound gorilla in the room, Luxembourg-based Skype Ltd.

New York City-based ooVoo LLC has some deep pockets backing it that can help take its technology to the next level. The Clay Mathile family has a significant ownership stake in ooVoo, which also has a service office in Atlanta and a research and development site in Israel. Mathile is the Dayton businessman who sold pet food maker Iams Co. to Procter & Gamble Co. back in 1999 for $2.3 billion.

Distinguished by its ability to make a six-way video call (by comparison, Skype has a version of five-way calling with 10-way calling in beta testing), ooVoo has grown from 9 million users at the end of 2009 to over 18 million users at the end of 2010.

The 70+ employee company launched in 2007 and has invested roughly $50 million in technology to get ooVoo to this point. The service is adding users at an increasingly faster clip each month, pointing to strong growth going forward as it ramps up efforts to target business users.

However, it has a way to go yet before it can match the 500 million users Skype has garnered with a four-year head start. Skype also has backers with deep pockets. Having launched in 2003 and bought by eBay Inc. in 2005, it was bought back by an investment group last year for roughly $2 billion.

But ooVoo’s message appears to be resonating. In addition to increasing user numbers, ooVoo is touting a recent study from a third-party research firm showing 8 of 10 Skype users prefer ooVoo.

In addition to its new and upcoming smartphone apps offerings, ooVoo is working to get its software pre-loaded on some Android and iPhone handsets, which will be optimized for high-quality video performance.

The company has plans to add throngs of international users as it markets in different languages. Until recently, all of its communications have been in English and 60 percent of its users are located in the U.S. Rumor has it that ooVoo is also in discussions to get its technology embedded in high-definition televisions. .”

Here’s how ooVoo works: users with a Webcam and broadband Internet connection download the software and register, then contact other users for text chats and video calls. The software is available for PC and Mac users and non-users can be invited to join calls through a link, which then connects them through a Web browser.

The basic ooVoo service, which includes three-way video calling and banner advertisements, is free. Users also can buy tiered-service packages from $9.95 per month for five-way calls to $19.95 per month for six-way calling There are also multi-seat business plans and features available. Paying customers are not exposed to banner ads.

When ooVoo launched, it started by going after consumers, but now is gearing up to lure small- and medium-sized businesses. Currently, it’s reported that about 25 percent of users are doing something tied to business use, from connecting with family on business travel to meetings with staff and clients.

In addition to growth in users, use of video conferencing is growing exponentially because infrastructure is now in place to support high-quality calls.

Check out ooVoo’s website for all the information:
http://www.oovoo.com/

Look at some “How To ooVoo” recordings:
http://www.oovoo.com/HowToooVooList.aspx

Download the Free Video Chat and Video Conferencing apps:
http://www.oovoo.com/Download.aspx

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