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21/08/2012 - Imo Pairs VoIP Capabilities With Its IM App
Imo has been widely used for years now by fans of instant messaging looking to bring all their various accounts under one umbrella. The company recently announced that it is expanding its free VoIP calling service from an Android-only option to users on iOS devices as well.

26/07/2012 - The social side of IT

editor's corner

Jason Meyers

For every person in the online world who pledges their allegiance to one or more social media platforms, there is likely someone in the enterprise IT world talking about how social media has no place in the business environment.

That's understandable, considering the perception (and, in many cases, the reality) that social media is nothing more than a time-waster for businesses. Sure, maybe there are ways Twitter and Facebook and other social platforms can be used by marketing departments to promote products and services and events for different types of businesses--but beyond that, isn't social media mostly a distraction for workforces who tweet and check Facebook on company time?

A recent study from the McKinsey Global Institute takes a much broader view of the value of social media for businesses. The report, The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity Through Social Technologies, explores the ways social technologies and platforms can be used not only for marketing and customer engagement, but also for communications enhancement and collaboration within and across enterprises. The report finds that social media actually has the power to boost the productivity of workers--an idea that certainly runs contrary to the views of many business owners and IT professionals who believe their employees should be banned from using social media in the workplace because it eats away at their productivity.

The report's findings indicate that enterprises must shift the way they think about social media in the workplace, considering it a communications tool rather than a distraction. As a synopsis of the study states, "To reap the full benefit of social technologies, organizations must transform their structures, processes, and cultures: they will need to become more open and nonhierarchical and to create a culture of trust. Ultimately, the power of social technologies hinges on the full and enthusiastic participation of employees who are not afraid to share their thoughts and trust that their contributions will be respected."

An article in The Financial Times by two of the report's authors goes into more depth on how social media can be embedded into a company's IT platform: "A key capability of social technologies is enabling participants in online social groups to create content, share it, comment on the content of others, recommend content from other sources, and instantaneously make it available to everyone in the community … What is even more important for enterprise users is that communications that take place on social platforms become content. This means that every item posted on an online community site becomes part of a permanent, searchable archive."

According to the report, that searchable, social-fueled archive has the potential to replace email as a way to communicate--an important productivity point, given that the study estimates the typical worker spends 13 hours a week writing, reading and answering email and another nine hours a week tracking down information.

The McKinsey study raises some intriguing points and some potentially important new roles for social media in the enterprise. But it will require some fundamental shifts in thinking on the part of business owners and IT professionals--as well as employees--or social media to move from a purely social (and perceived time-wasting) technology to a platform integral to the improved productivity of workers and an ultimate performance booster for companies. --Jason Meyers


24/07/2012 - Skype Working Out Instant Messaging Bug
Skype offers their service to users running Windows, Mac, Linux, and most of the mobile operating systems, and the majority of users utilize the application completely for free. But many consumers have run into issues in recent weeks, as instant messages sent over Skype have been accidentally sent to the incorrect contact, creating a host of awkward situations.

18/11/2011 - Skype and Facebook build upon their friendship, integrate deeper

Skype's friendship with Facebook just became more significant. The free-VoIP service Thursday launched Skype 5.4 Beta for Mac and Skype 5.7 Beta for Windows. The updated betas allow users to conduct a Facebook-to-Facebook video chat from within Skype, as well as to call Facebook friends, colleagues and business contacts without having to actually go to the Facebook site.

Video calls can be answered in either service, depending which one users are logged into. Once users link their Skype and Facebook accounts, the new releases continue to allows Skype users to send instant messages and to follow friends' status updates.

Skype said its update includes more robust video rendering, giving a smoother video experience for Mac users and group screen sharing for Windows users with a Premium subscription. Users who are chatting one-on-one will also be able to screen share with live video streaming.

The Facebook-Skype expansion shouldn't come as a surprise. In August, Neil Stevens, Skype's vice president and general manager of products and marketing, while discussing plans after Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) $8.5 billion acquisition of the company, said Skype would continue to evolve the relationship. Stevens said the companies would focus on rolling out their online video chat. Eventually, he said, they'd add the ability to make outbound landline calls from the social networking site, and to call into Facebook from Skype, which likely will be on a fee basis.

For more:
- see this Skype post

Related articles:
EU gives nod to Microsoft's $8.5B Skype acquisition
Facebook integration included in Skype for Mac beta
Microsoft's plans for Skype include deeper integration, more Facebook
Skype for Apple's iPad is officially available... again


14/10/2010 - New Skype for Windows launched with Facebook integration

What's the definition of perfect timing? How about when the latest release of your software showcases your partnership with a social network that just had a box office hit movie made about it. Skype's latest rendition for Windows seems to be taking advantage just as the buzz machine surrounding Facebook is heating up.

The latest release of Skype for Windows is making its new Facebook integration a centerpiece of its service with Skype users accessing their Facebook features right from their favorite VoIP calling system. Users can view the Facebook news feed complete with the latest status updates of their friends right from Skype. The integration also pulls in their Facebook contacts into Skype so that Skype calls and SMS messages can be sent right to their Facebook friends. Sure the latest party pics might deserve a poke, like or comment--all of which users can do right from Skype now--but they now will have the option of calling a friend and hashing out what really happened over the weekend.

In addition to the new Facebook integration, users of the latest version of Skype will get to beta test the new group video calling feature. According to the release, 40 percent of calls over Skype in the first half of 2010 were video calls, so this is bound to be a popular feature. And now with all your Facebook friends at the few clicks of a mouse, multi-user video conferencing might be the 21 century party-line.

For more:
- read the release

Related news:
Skype Everywhere continues on Facebook

Samsung releases Skype TVs


30/09/2010 - Skype Everywhere continues on Facebook

So we've already mentioned the mega deal Skype and Avaya have in the works but wait, there's more! It looks like Skype has been really busy wheeling and dealing to make their service ubiquitous.

According to an exclusive at All Things Digital, Facebook and Skype are working on a deep integration partnership. The deal will allow Facebook users to send each other SMS messages, video call and voice call each other over the Skype service. Users will be able to sign in to Skype through Facebook Connect and engage with their peers seamlessly.

According to the article, the integration is expected to be right around the corner--being launched with Skype 5.0 set to release in October.

Add this latest development to Skype's deal with Avaya and its recent moves to get itself integrated into consumer televisions and Skype might be too conveniently in most consumers faces not to use.

For more:
- read the All Things Digital article
- and the EWeek follow-up

Related news:
Real drinks through Facebook
Ten Mobile VoIP Apps for the iPhone


04/08/2010 - Vonage Mobile App Provides Free Wi-Fi / 3G Calling For Facebook Users Worldwide
Vonage has just introduced the Vonage Mobile application for Facebook, a new service that allows users to make free mobile calls to all of their Facebook friends who have the app, anywhere in the world, directly from their friends list.

11/12/2009 - Requestec Provides Bell Mobility with 3G Mobile Video Calling App for Facebook

Requestec
, an Adobe Flash-to-SIP telephony provider, announced their key involvement in the release of Bell Mobility’s, Bell Video Call application built on the Facebook platform.

The application allows Facebook users to visit the profile page of a Bell subscriber that has added the application and click on their Bell Video Call tab. From here, calls can be made from anywhere in the world to the Bell subscriber’s HSPA Video Calling handset; all at no cost to the caller.

The company claims it’s the first video calling application in North America that is fully integrated into Facebook.

30/04/2009 - Fring Targets Mainstream Users With New Funding

VoIP start-up fring has announced that it intends to accelerate its growth plans after completing a third round of funding.
Avi Shechter, fring co-founder and CEO, said a key objective is to make the free VoIP and IM service easier to use for mainstream "fringsters".

08/09/2008 - 3 UK launches next-generation Skypephone

Mobile operator 3 UK has unveiled the next-generation Skypephone handset, the 3 Skypephone S2.
The new device gives users access to Facebook, Google and Windows Live Messenger and enables free Skype calls and instant messaging.

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