Video Conferencing For Mac: Five Skype Alternatives

Skype has recently made some interesting connections such as a partnership with Facebook and purchasing Qik. Skype has also reached a milestone by having more than 27 million simultaneous logins, surely there had to be some unfavorable news about them… unfortunately there is.

We are hearing reports that Skype are going to start charging for video conferencing once it has left the Skype 5.0 beta stage, with that in mind, we began to scout around for alternatives especially aimed at Mac users. It seems a bit crazy that Skype are going to start charging for a service that was free before but I guess if you see a business opportunity then you take it right?

Some of the alternatives that have been reported on over at PCWorld are pretty interesting solutions that may see you move away from Skype. The first one we want to report to you is QNext; this is a multi-platform application that allows various modes of communication. It can do media sharing, instant messaging and audio and video chat. However the conferencing allows up to four computers at a time. The software can be installed on various operating systems such as Linux Windows and of course OS X. Take a look at it from their official site. One thing to note is that all conferencing users will need to have the application installed.

Next on our hit list is Tinychat, this ‘little’ application that works like a chat room, its free to use and requires no installation unless you don’t have flash. It works in your browser using Flash to connect users. You can create a chat room and then share the URL with the people you want to join. You have to be a little careful though as anyone can join the chatroom and unfortunately you cannot limit the access to users using password protection, otherwise its ease of use would have made it exceptional.

Another is Tokbox, similar to Tinychat it runs in your browser using Flash. It does allow up to 20 participants on a single call and you can import your contacts from GTalk, Facebook, email and Yahoo. Why not check out the demo that they have on their website by heading through to them and then hitting the ‘Demos’ button.

Sifonr is another browser and flash combination that allows you to chat over video with the people you need to. It also has something that’s a little different; it has peer-to-peer assisted networking. This will allow you to use your bandwidth to help others on the chat’s video to stream. Pretty good if you have one person who is pretty remote as it will boost their chat capability whilst on the call with you. You can read more about the peer-to-peer networking over at the official adobe site.

The last one on the list is iChat, this is a part of the Mac OS, and you can read all about it here. A couple of the key features to it are its ability to work with iLife and GarageBand so that you can take a conversation, record it and turn it into a podcast, pretty impressive eh? Unfortunately it is restricted to Mac only users.

After checking some of these out, you may wish to stay with Skype even paying whatever the fee is. What do you think of Skype introducing payment for video conferencing? Let us know in the comments section below.