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Skype boss: Mobile, video are our future

At the D10 conference, Tony Bates announces new user numbers, and says he's doubling down on Windows 8.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
Tony Bates, president of Microsoft's Skype division Rafe Needleman/CNET

PALOS VERDES, Calif. -- At the D10 conference, Microsoft's Tony Bates, president of the Skype division, laid out two of the major growth opportunities and challenges for the communications service: mobile and video.

Announcing today that Skye now has 250 million connected users, up from 170 million the last time he reported, he said that over 50 percent of his traffic is now video communications.

Skype is "doubling down" on Windows 8 he said (also doubling down on secrecy), which Bates says is excellent for Skype because of its focus on people. "Windows 8 really represents where Skype is going. The desktop is still the largest use case."

But the real opportunity, he says, is mobile. He's a big fan of Windows Phone due, again, to its people-centric nature. He said, "I think we can add value to the phone."

The iPhone, though, is the product's biggest platform.

Android, he said, "is very fragmented. And because of where we play in the stack it's quite challenging."

On video, he reminds the audience that Skype is getting built in to most modern televisions. He sees Microsoft Kinect as a new user input method. And he says that more people are using Skype as "ambient video, " leaving living room connections open between two points for family members who are separated.

He also called on mobile hardware manufacturers to add a camera activity light to their devices for the front-facing cameras.