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It was a Skype scoop for Australia: with the new software going live at 9am today, we’re the first country in the world to experience version 4.0.

Neary wasn’t able to tell us how many Australians use Skype regularly, though he did mention ­ several times ­ that the software has 405 million registered users worldwide, and newcomers are signing up at 380,000 a day.
Skype traffic now makes up 8 percent of all international calls, he claimed.

Calls are free between Skype users. Skype ­ the company ­ makes most of its money through “SkypeOut” calls made to and from landlines and mobiles, as well as voicemail, call forwarding and SMS messaging.

The moola, once a trickle, is now considerable: Skype reported revenue of
US$145 million, up 41 percent, in its recent fourth quarter.

The new version 4.0 for the first time features full-screen video calling ­ set up with a single click. Around 25 percent of all Skype calls are video calls, says Dan Neary.

 


Android,iPhone Skype on way

Sound has also been improved via a new audio codec (“coder-decoder”) claimed to achieve wideband audio quality using 50 percent less bandwidth than previously required.

For those with a compatible headset and a fast broadband connection, there’s “super wideband” audio, which Skype claims delivers “crystal clear, richer and warmer sound”.

So far there’s no version 4 for Mac or Linux users: the latest version for Macintosh is v.2.8. But according to Neary this has some features that are not yet in 4.0 for Windows, such as screen sharing.

Skype has announced a forthcoming mobile version for use with Android phones, and Neary said an iPhone version is also in the works. ­

David Frith

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