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Summary:

Another day, another beta. Skype, a division of eBay launched Skype 2.0 beta for Windows. Just in time for some customers who got their passwords compromised. The elaborate press release and WSJ review while impressive don’t help mask the fact that, Skype is short on new […]

Another day, another beta.

Skype, a division of eBay launched Skype 2.0 beta for Windows. Just in time for some customers who got their passwords compromised. The elaborate press release and WSJ review while impressive don’t help mask the fact that, Skype is short on new ground breaking ideas.

Personalization via avatars and ring-tones… big new idea? Not really. Phil Wolff over on Skype Journal puts it nicely when he writes, “If you’ve been using Skype, the Beta version of Skype 2.0 for Windows won’t give you a new Wow! experience.” (A nice review in the Journal should help put incumbent CEOs in a bad mood first thing, and well, redouble their efforts. …. okay just kidding about that! Actually Israel is getting pretty serious about giving Skype the shank. So are other neighboring Gulf states!)

The Video calling feature seems great, except when it starts getting mass adoption, it will start to choke the upstream part of your broadband, and for some odd reason that really makes incumbents mad! Tt also raises some crucial questions about the future of independent developers. As Skype continues to subsume great ideas implemented by its developer community, is it running the risk of alienating the very community that made it great. Today three companies that offer Skype plugins get impacted – Video plugin maker Festoon and DialCom that offers Video4IM. Skype now offers a new Microsoft Outlook toolbar which impacts another independent developer, the Skylook.

The standard features make it harder for many developers to make a fiscal argument to stay in the Skype ecosystem. As they flee, the system breaks down, and new ideas stop flowing. (Of course that would also mean, some great stealable concepts would never materialize.) These same guys, start supporting Gizmo Project, which uses open source, then the momentum can quickly shift away from Skype.

I think these kind of hiccups are leaving an opening for others upstarts to come in and make a play for Skype’s market. (I wish Google would get its GTalk act together!) Many times I have beaten up on Microsoft, but even they leave big-fat crumbs for the little guys to help grow the Windows ecosystem. Perhaps I am being too harsh on Skype. After all, Apple also has a habit of taking from the “independent developers” and getting away with it. Sadly, eBay/Skype is no Apple.

I would love to hear from guys who develop for Skype platform.

  1. “Actually Israel is getting pretty serious about giving Skype the shank. So are other Gulf states!)”

    Israel is not a gulf state. No Gulf for hundreds of miles around.

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  2. Om: just FYI… Gizmo is NOT an open source project. It uses the standard SIP protocol but that’s it. OpenWengo, on the other hand, is multi-platform, standards based and is licenced under GPL, so it’s REALLY open source!

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  3. no ‘mac’ version! c’mmon skype team must be really kiddin!

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  4. I don’t develop extensions for Skype, but do facilitate a community of developers around a developer network (a similar principle to what Skype are doing here).

    From the outset, I felt it important to ensure that the community didn’t feel its ideas and developments were ripped off. Mechanisms were put in place to ensure that this didn’t occur, and that it was clear that we are playing fair. These included explicitly stating that the developers maintained IP rights over what they produced.

    Enabling your expert userbase to extend your product/service is perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the otherwise dreaded web2.0 meme. However it’s a privilege, not a right.

    If you don’t want others to provide true value-added services that could potentially eclipse your own base-product, than perhaps you shouldn’t provide an API. To allow others to pioneer new market opportunities around your product, and then march in over the top of them the moment it nears a critical mass is arguably objectionable.

    Being a true “Web2.0 businessâ€? it not about having a fancy API but about being happy to let go of some of the control and power you otherwise hold over your product.

    (These are my personal views, of course, and not those of my employer)

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  5. Andre Oppermann Thursday, December 1, 2005

    At least Apple first tries to buy out a company of the ecosystem. See iTunes for example. Unless of course the feature is so obvious and trivial that there is no particular case to buy anyone.

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  6. And when will Skype support SIP, Skype 3.0?

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  7. Om,
    We integrated Jybe with Skype and won an award for our efforts. However, there was never a promise that Skype would not take our functionality and I know of two other companies who had issues with this – contact me if you want more info. Also, I agree with you about the ecosystem of Skype – it is open, but only to a point and the independent developer had better beware.
    Best,
    Brian

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  8. Are Blue Skypes Turning Gray?

    I know there are people other than me out there who still do things like picking up a handset and talking on a real live telephone instrument. (okay, it’s not really “live”, I hope) But for the rest of the…

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  9. I think we could say it was pretty obvious since the beginning of Skype that Skype would add video and that video was naturally part of the core offering.

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  10. [...] While video functionality is great, I’d actually much prefer the ability to share applications (browser, powerpoint, excel, etc.) through Skype, making it significantly more useful for business calls. In other grumblings, Om Malik ponders whether independent developers will continue to build for Skype, since they tend to subsume the better ideas (Festoon, Skylook, etc). Tags: skype, video, voip, techcrunch, web2.0, web+2.0 Categories: Profiles, VoIP | Bookmark this post with del.icio.us [...]

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