ooVoo vs. Skype in the SMB Space

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Randy Savicky
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ooVoo vs. Skype in the SMB Space

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I recently had a video interview with Phillipe Schwartz, CEO of ooVoo, to discuss how they stack up against Skype, ooVoo's technical architecture, their target market, and more. One difference off the bat is that ooVoo started with a SMB-focus, while Skype started with a consumer-focus and then Skype recently started targeting small to medium businesses,i.e. Skype for SIP now called Skype Connect. Phillipe claims ooVoo has an impressive 14 million users and 2-2.5 million downloads per month. He said they're running about 2 million video conversations per month at the end of 2009 and now they're running close to 15 million video conversations per month - an impressive jump.

One difference between Skype and ooVoo is that ooVoo doesn't leverage supernodes like Skype. Instead they use their own servers. Philippe explained that their controlled infrastructure allows for quality of service management that is more complicated to do in a peer-to-peer infrastructure. For instance, ooVoo can control the bandwidth allocated to each participant, can control the bitrate to each participant, different resolution to each participant. As bandwidth fluctuates or CPUs with limited resources they can control the video quality accordingly.

Importantly, when in a multiple participant video conference, you get a fully synchronized audio and video stream. So no Kung Fu-like mismatched lip movements with the audio. ooVoo supports HD high definition video with support up to 640x480 using 384Kbps (dual core processor required). Important features include the ability to share documents, share the Desktop and perform text chat, as seen here: (click for large image)

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Recording capabilities are superb. You can record the audio, video, and any shared presentations or Desktop. Further, you can upload the file to ooVoo's servers so you can share the recording on Facebook, blog, email, etc.

ooVoo has a Skype plugin so you can invite your Skype users into the conference. It pulls in your Skype contacts so you can easily invite them to a web site where they can participate in the conference. In the video interview we had an interesting discussion over why they did not choose Flash for the web conferencing portal. Philippe said they did not go with Flash due to limitations with controlling the bandwidth, quality, and other concerns. Instead they went with a combination of ActiveX and Java applets to address these issues. The same video quality you see in the Windows application is seen in the browser-based app as well.

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An Android app is coming soon leveraging Java. They are also developing an iPhone app as well, which should launch the end of this year. Both will support full videoconferencing capabilities. Unlike iPhone's Facetime which is limited to WiFi only, ooVoo will work over WiFi and 3G. This really affirms my prediction that 2011 will be the "Year of Mobile Video Conferencing". Apple's Facetime may have been one of the first salvos, but companies like ooVoo, fring, and others will make mobile video calls very popular next year.

I really loved the video quality. Switching to full-screen mode with HD quality had superb image quality. It's worth mentioning that Google's On2/VP8 codec is used for the ooVoo Windows application. In the mobile space, On2/VP8 and H.264 are the codecs leveraged

Interestingly, 70% of their revenue comes from advertising and 30% comes from subscriptions and other premium services. I was highly skeptical that advertising could support a business-class video conferencing solution, but I did see a big name advertiser when using the ooVoo client. So kudos to ooVoo for finding a business model that doesn't put the full financial load on the end-user or SMB, especially in this tight economy.

Lastly, here's the video interview that is certainly worth watching. The Flash recording is slightly compressed, so it's not the full quality I experienced, but still gives you a good idea. Some other interesting tidbits are in there that I did not talk about as well. In addition, at one point we had a 4-way video conference going on that's worth checking out:


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