Skype has just introduced a new service that allows the users of Android phones to make free video calls to the contacts on Skype or to those having an Apple iPhone.

The company, whose name has become in mid-2000s synonymous with internet calls, says the application will now support video calls only to certain HTC and Sony Ericsson phones.

But they will not stop here. The company wants to bring the video call options on as many platforms, according to Neil Stevens, director of sales and marketing for Skype.

This step will certainly spark a competition between the handset manufacturers that rely on Google Android software and the video call services FaceTime of Apple. FaceTime was launched last year for iPhone and is now available on the tablet iPad 2 and on the computers using Mac.

The new video calling option will help Microsoft, the new owner of Skype, to promote their Smartphone Windows Phone platform, which is merging with Nokia platform in an effort to compete with Android and Apple.

In the last four months of 2010, Skype had on average 145 million users online per month. In 2010, the users made calls that totaled 207 billion minutes, of which 42% were video calls.

For now, video phone calls are in an early stage, but the market for fixed calls on the Internet has increased by 12.6%, last year reaching a value worth 17.3 billion dollars.

With the new Android Skype application, the users can make free calls between the phones running on Android, iPhones, Macs, Microsoft Windows PCs and TVs.

The first phones that support video calls are HTC Desire 5, Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo, Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro and Google Nexus S.

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