A Skype co-founder is backing a new mobile messaging and media sharing service called Wire meant to disrupt Skype and other popular messaging apps. Fully 11 years after Skype was founded and three years after Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) bought Skype, Janus Friis is trying to give his former company a run for its money with Wire.
Wire is available for free on Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS and OS X and Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android platforms, though on an invite-only basis right now. Wire can be used for one-to-one and group messaging, voice calling, sharing pictures, music on SoundCloud and YouTube videos. Additionally, Wire conversations are kept in sync across devices.
Wire claims its audio quality is top notch, and Wire's chief scientist, Koen Vos, created SILK and co-created the Opus audio codec, the standards for fidelity and intelligibility in voice over IP that Wire said billions of people use today. Wire is also compatible with the WebRTC standard and can support audio calls to and from WebRTC-compatible browsers.
Wire currently does not support video chatting, but CEO Jonathan Christensen told The Verge the company has the necessary skills to develop such a feature.
"What attracted me to Wire is that it is something truly new. This is not some marginal improvement. This is not just an app," Friis told the Guardian. "This is not just attacking one feature trying to do something marginally better. What the team has done is a complete from-the-ground-up reimagination of what communication should be. I wouldn't have been interested if this was just another feature."
According to the Wall Street Journal, like other messaging apps, Wire lets users pull in contacts from their phone contact lists and suggests other people they might know using the app. Users can also create groups around common interests and be notified when someone adds a photo or video or text message to the group. Christensen said that in addition to SoundCloud and YouTube, the company might do integrations with other types of media in the future.
Christensen told the Journal the company eventually plans to earn money by selling add-ons within the app but does not intend to use personal data to target advertising.
In terms of security, Christensen told The Verge the app uses end-to-end encryption for all of its voice calls, and encryption to and from its data centers for all messages and media. The company is also working on an HTML5 version of its app, and plans to have a PC-compatible version ready in "less than a quarter."
Along with Christensen, who was a Skype executive, Wire's founders include CTO Alan Duric, a co-founder of Telio and co-founder of Camino, which was acquired by eBay/Skype; and Priidu Zilmer, Wire's head of product design, who led design teams at Vdio and Skype.
Wire is headquartered in Switzerland and has a development center in Berlin, Germany. Wire is backed by Iconical, a group of designers, engineers and entrepreneurs including Friis.
- see this release
- see this Guardian article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this The Verge article
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