RealTime IT News

Festoon Plugs Skype Into Google Talk

Santa Cruz Networks released a free plug-in to let Skype users engage in voice over IP (VoIP) and video calls with users of Google Talk.

Santa Cruz Networks provides hosted or server-based applications for video conferencing, voice chat, instant messaging and messaging-based document sharing. Festoon, released in September, is the company's plug-in for adding video and sharing to the Skype VoIP service. Festoon IM users can share photos and documents, as well.

The company's latest offering, Festoon Unity, lets users of Skype and Google Talk engage in one-to-one or group voice and video calls.

In a statement, Itzik Cohen, CEO of Santa Cruz Networks, said: "We are pleased to be the first to connect Skype and Google Talk users."

Executives didn't respond to requests for interviews.

The new release has improved video speed, voice and video synchronization, enhanced group audio, automatic proxy support, and new personalization features.

Skype released its own video-enabled VoIP service in December.

Santa Cruz Networks, which is actually based in Campbell, Calif., boasts more than 3.7 million downloads and over 52 million video call user minutes for its Festoon service. Research firm Radicati Group reports around 867 million IM accounts worldwide today, a number expected to grow to 1.2 billion accounts in 2009.

Video calling over instant messaging networks has long been a goal of every IM platform provider. AOL launched video and VoIP-enabled instant messaging in November, while Microsoft rolled it out last April. In May, Yahoo offered a beta version of VoIP-enabled Yahoo Messenger.

These applications are loaded with functionality. AOL's Triton integrates text messaging via IM with both the AOL and free AIM e-mail clients, offers SMS mobile messaging and integrates voice and video chat sessions. Users of MSN Messenger 7.0 get full-screen video, as well as enhanced synchronized audio that improves the audio quality of IM video conversations.

Google Talk, released in August, offers voice-enabled instant messaging, but no video.

In October MSN and Yahoo announced a partnership intended to link MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger by the second quarter of 2006.

But, to date, none of the services interoperate. In 2006, Santa Cruz Networks plans to add Festoon Unity support for AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger, along with a series of Web services that will let others add video communication to Web sites.