Skype Brings Free Video Messaging Out Of Preview, Redefines ‘Visual Voicemail’

Skype has just announced that the previously beta video messaging feature it’s been testing is now a proper release feature of its Skype applications for Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry. Video messaging on Skype simply allows users to record a message for a contact to be viewed later, sort of like a video voicemail, instead of requiring that any real-time communication shenanigans happen.

Asynchronous video is arguably the older form of communication – I can still remember using the parents’ old VHS camcorder to make tapes that we’d later show grandma and grandpa, for instance. But Skype has been slow to integrate it, and it’s possible that the advent of recent startups including Glide, and to some extent Twitter’s Vine, which are focused specifically on time-delayed video broadcasts, have lit a fire under the Microsoft-owned company, lest they get disrupted. Other competing apps like Viber and various messaging platforms have also previously offered the feature.

The video messaging feature had previously been available as a beta feature since February, with a cap on the number of messages in place, and free unlimited use relegated to those with premium subscriptions. Luckily Skype seems not to have seen much value in locking this feature behind a pay wall, unlike its screen sharing option, which is good news for all.

Video messaging scratches an itch that was previously one of the major limitations of video communication, which is, what do you do when the other party isn’t available? All that intent gets lost as you run up against the wall, and consumers are bound to be less inclined to use a service like that should they encounter disappointment. At the very least video messaging offers a way to act on that impulse to connect via video, even if real-time communication isn’t possible or practical.

Skype entering the fray and offering multi-platform support out of the starting gate may put a damper on startups in this space, but we’ll have to see how users respond to this addition to the Skype platform, and whether people think Skype’s implementation is strong enough to replace more feature-rich offerings from Glide and the like.