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Skype Joins the Social Messaging Club, With New Video App Qik

Its kinda-ephemeral (buzzword alert!) video messages disappear in two weeks.

If the mobile messaging market continues its trend of explosive growth, Microsoft certainly doesn’t want to be left behind: The company’s Skype division has just launched Skype Qik, a lightweight, video-only messaging app that allows users to send quick snippets of video (up to 42 seconds long) to a friend or group of friends.

Qik videos are recorded from either the front or rear camera of the smartphone and sent to other Qik contacts or added to an existing Qik message thread. Users can also prerecord a handful of messages, called Qik Flicks, to send at a later point. Unlike some mobile video apps, the videos are meant to be self-contained; Skype says Qik video messages can only be viewed from within the app and are not saved to the smartphone’s camera roll.

And since “ephemeral” is all the rage, all Qik messages in a thread disappear after two weeks. The free app is available on iOS, Android and Windows, although the experience may differ across different operating systems at launch.

If the Qik name sounds familiar, it’s because it originally belonged to a video-streaming startup acquired by Skype in 2011. After incorporating some of Qik’s technology and features, Skype shuttered the service on April 30.

Skype, which claims 300 million users, says there were three mobile trends that led the company to explore this kind of app: An increasing shift from desktop to mobile; the dramatic growth of instant messaging, photo and video sharing; and consumers’ appetite for lightweight, spontaneous messaging experiences.

Why would Qik videos cap at 42 seconds, you might ask? Obviously, it’s the meaning of life, the universe and everything.

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