Skype 2.0 eats its young

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.

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