Skype Kills Extras (and Its Developer Ecosystem)

skype_logoSkype’s new owners should be aware of one small thing: They are paying $2 billion for a company that, despite having more than 400 million subscribers, doesn’t know how to leverage that platform. Why? Because it doesn’t understand developers. It never has. We have consistently pointed out this lackadaisical attitude towards its developer ecosystem. The fact is that if you put your lot with Skype, then you are really on your own. Today the company announced that it’s killed Skype Extras, an API-based effort that was launched with much fanfare in June 2007.

Extras are third-party applications (or plugins) that can be added on to leverage the Skype network. For instance, Skylook, which marries Skype with Outlook. The company, which never really got its act together to promote these and the Skype ecosystem effectively, today sent out an email to its developers saying that it’s killing Extras:

Unfortunately I have to announce that the Skype Extras program will be shut down, effective September 11, 2009. Despite the incredible breadth of Extras developed for Skype, simply not enough people were using them to justify our continued support of the Extras program.

Skype will certify no new Extras, but will keep selling current ones until they expire and will support accessories via the public API. The company will “no longer allow the use of Skype credit by 3rd Party Extras developers” as of Dec. 11. What does that mean? That if you’re a developer, you have no reason to believe Skype will do the right thing, under even with the new management (and more enlightened and web savvy ownership) structure  when the deal closes.