Skype is making it clear that it doesn’t want third-party clients using its services. First, Fring for iPhone lost Skype support (though there was debate regarding who was in the wrong), and today, another popular multi-service IM and calling client, Nimbuzz, had its Skype privileges revoked.
Skype certainly isn’t making itself any friends by blocking these clients. Both boast a large user pool. Nimbuzz is used by 30 million people, on Mac, PC and all major mobile platforms. That’s a lot of people who are finding themselves seriously annoyed at having to look elsewhere for Skype support starting Oct. 31.
I’ve already said that Skype is missing the boat by not prioritizing its Mac and iOS clients above those for other platforms. Skype’s iPhone efforts are one of its major sources of revenue, but now, I think it may be on its way toward being squeezed out of the Apple ecosystem. Even if Apple doesn’t lock it out entirely, as it has done with Flash on iOS, it could render Skype redundant by expanding its FaceTime efforts. In fact, even the planned North Carolina data center could be part of an effort to prepare for increased server demand resulting from FaceTime. Nimbuzz already announced that it would be bringing FaceTime to its client, and it probably won’t be alone.
FaceTime’s arrival on the Mac as a standalone app from Apple also can’t be good for Skype’s prospects. If I can do phone-to-computer or vice versa between Apple-branded products using Apple-branded software, I’m not very likely to go looking elsewhere for a solution. And if Nimbuzz and other multi-service clients expand that capability beyond just Apple-made devices, then I’ll have an end-to-end video and voice calling solution that covers all the bases.
Apple probably won’t move to actively block Skype, but it will give preference to its own solutions first and foremost, like it’s beginning to do on the Mac by not shipping machines with Flash pre-installed in preparation for the arrival of the App Store on OS X. Skype may find itself on the outside looking in, especially if they continue to alienate third-party apps that could guarantee them a continued presence on Apple devices.
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