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ooVoo readies six-way Jetson chat client

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Add another to the long list of free video-chat clients. With its new software, due to officially launch on June 11, startup ooVoo is entering a market that already includes AOL, Apple, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Skype, and a handful of smaller names. The difference? The ooVoo client focuses on multi-person video calls, allowing for face-to-face chat across six different locations.

The question is whether this new tool avoids the extreme latency that so often plagues other free clients. With tools like AOL’s AIM and Yahoo! Instant Messenger, the delay between audio and video can reduce calls to chaos.

According to Zia Daniell Wigder, a vice president and analyst with the international research firm JupiterResearch, ooVoo’s latency is minimal—though it can disrupt calls from time to time. Last week, during a briefing with ooVoo, the New York-based Wigder used the client to chat with two other New York users and a fellow Jupiter analyst working in London.

"There was a split-second delay—anyone who’s used VOIP knows what sort of delay I’m talking about—but the latency between New York and London was about the same as the latency within the New York area," Wigder explains.

Of course, latency levels could change as traffic increases. Though it’s yet to officially launch, the ooVoo client has been available for download since early May, and according to the company, word-of-mouth has driven 100,000 downloads.

In addition to facilitating live video conversations, ooVoo offers video voice mail, and it provides hooks for blogs and MySpace pages, letting friends, family, and colleagues initiate conversations straight from the Web.

Today, the client is only available for Windows, but a version for the Apple OS is on the way.®

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