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Android phones get free video calling

Still no sign of a Fring business model

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A new version of identity-aggregation application Fring brings video calling to Android handsets, despite the company's ever-lacking business model.

The new Fring client for Android has all the usual VoIP and messaging functions: aggregating identities from Skype, GoogleTalk and SIP-based telephony services, as well as ICQ, AIM and MS Messenger for instant messaging, but Android users can now also share the video-calling goodness with their iPhone and Symbian contacts.

That's assuming their Android handset is up to it - Fring reckons its software will automatically check the available processing power with video calling only appearing if it's actually possible. But that should include the Nexus One, Motorola Droid and HTC Desire, as well as anything better.

Fring's video calling service is integrated with Skype, so you should see (and be seen by) any Skype user, assuming you've found a Wi-Fi or decent 3G connection and aren't paying by the byte.

Fring had promised more platforms would follow the addition of video to the Symbian version which was launched last November, so now Android users can discover how quickly the novelty of being able to see the person you're calling wears off.

There are occasions when video calling makes sense, but they are few and far between and certainly not something for which users were ever prepared to pay. Giving the service away might make it slightly more popular, but it still isn't going to make any money for Fring which is still searching for a revenue model. ®

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