Skype this: do you ooVoo?

Over the past five years I stopped having to be pioneer and Chuck Yeager test pilot-style early adopter for all household technologies. Oh, I still hold a firm grip on my job as IT and network administrator, which on the IT side means I get to wrestle with software and hardware if something goes wrong with a family computer, printer or other peripheral. On the network side it usually entails resetting cable modem and wireless router a few times a year to bring the signal back to life, or calling Cox when the service is really out. The real heavy lifting is long since done: first my dear friend Oliver Robinson, currently deployed in the Middle East, wired our entire home with Cat 5 cable–and with a modicum of help from me–before wireless home networking was readily available. With the advent of wireless networking for the masses, I deployed a Linksys (now Cisco) wireless network, then replaced it with Netgear draft N.

The point is, while my household appreciates my tech support, and is alternately impressed and bemused with my forays across the outer reaches of the social media cosmos, it turns out that we have produced two new cutting-edge technology explorers: our daughters. “Skype is great but with the free version we can only do a two-way call,” said the explorers. With older daughter at Cal Poly, younger daughter at Boston College and home base north of San Diego, we need three-way calling–and with two daughters in college, free is good. So a few weeks ago I was summoned to my wife’s computer for a three-way video call on a service our daughters had discovered: ooVoo.

Video Chat with up to 12 parties

ooVoo’s website says you can chat “with up to 12 people at once,” but I think the company is underselling itself. What it really connects are up to 12 webcam-equipped computers (desktop, laptop or tablet) and/or smartphones; there is no limit to how many smiling, laughing faces you can assemble, via those 12 connections, around the warm glow of the ooVoo video campfire. All you do is download the ooVoo software on PC, Mac, smartphone or tablet and you’re set for HD-quality ooVoo Video Chat. The catch, if this truly qualifies as one, is that the free version of ooVoo currently allows you to video chat with “only” six connected parties; connecting with 7-12 parties requires the paid version.

ooVoo’s value transcends the video chat itself: you can record and send video messages, record and upload calls to YouTube and send instant messages to your contacts on ooVoo and Facebook.

Coming sOOn: V’Rooms; available now: Video Conferencing

ooVoo Video Conferencing enables online meetings, web conferencing, web presentations, online training and remote support. In addition to all Video Chat features above, ooVoo Video Conferencing adds desktop sharing, the ability to send large files to conference participants and advanced security settings.

Soon ooVoo users will be able to launch their own web-based Video Chat Rooms where up to 12 friends can connect on the fly with no download required. V’Rooms, as ooVoo likes to call them, will be fully connected with your other networks like Facebook. In a surprising burst of permanence in today’s limited-timeframe, limited-liability world, ooVoo says you can “create a temporary room or keep a room for life – it’s up to you!” Users will be able to Group-IM with people in the V’Room.

ooVoo who?

Based in New York, ooVoo provides high-quality multi-party video chat to nearly 30 million users worldwide. About 60% of ooVoo users are under 25 years of age, and more than 50% have reported new introductions over ooVoo as they use the service for social video. ooVoo’s cloud-based technology enables consumers and businesses to experience real-time video calls on PCs, Macs and mobile devices with up to 12 users simultaneously. Product features include multi-party video calls, high-resolution video, desktop sharing, text chat, video recording, file sharing and phone calling to landlines and cell phones.

THE BIG FINISH

I liked my first-ever ooVoo video call. Our three video windows, arrayed in a video wall, filled the desktop. The video was pretty solid throughout, with a few freeze-delays on random windows but overall a great experience. Audo, too, was pretty good and never cut out, but we did notice random volume loss not caused by head-turns but simply mid-sentence with speaker in identical position. When launched, Video Room (V’Room) will do for video calling what conferencing services such as FreeConferenceCall.com do for audio concalls: provide ad hoc, on-demand group calls. Skype does that, too–for a fee. ooVoo’s messaging does not say whether V’Room will be free or a paid service, but while I downloaded the software its messaging stated the standard, up-to-six-parties Video Chat service “is and will always be free,” and that is good enough for me.

JEFF COTRUPE (XeeMe@MarketPowerLLC) is a researcher, writer, product manager and marketer who has launched more than 20 products and services to help employers and clients generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, M&A and capital.
Top business achievements to date:

[a] Helping put $10M software company CommTech on the map, acquired in three years by ADC for $185.5M; and
[b] Naming Stratecast (“strategy + forecasting”)…then finally joining the firm more than a decade later, in 2010, and launching a new Stratecast research program, ACEM, in 2011.
Proudest personal achievements, always and forever:
Michelle and Heather.
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