Blog Post

Skype Boots Nimbuzz, Tightens Grip On Ecosystem

Success, they say, comes at a price. Nimbuzz, the Rotterdam, Netherlands-based mobile VoIP startup which only recently crossed 150 million downloads and 30 million registered users, is breaking up with the big daddy of Internet telephony, Skype.

Until recently, Nimbuzz made it possible for Skype subscribers to exchange instant messages and make Skye-to-Skype calls via its mobile clients. But as the size of the company has grown, it has become more of a threat to Skype by the day. The Nimbuzz client is a meta-communication that allows you to use VoIP and IM services with pretty much all major networks including Facebook, Yahoo, AIM, Windows Live, Twitter, Google Talk and MySpace.

The shut down of Skype services will come on October 31, 2010. “Skype’s decision is unfair to its own and our users,” Nimbuzz CEO Evert Jaap Lugt said in a written statement. Nimbuzz claims that this shutdown is part of Skype cutting off access to all third-party VoIP services ahead of its IPO, but that is not the case, a Skype spokeswoman told us:

We believed that Nimbuzz’s application was in violation of Skype’s API Terms of Use and End User License Agreement (EULA). Skype offered to meet with Nimbuzz and discuss the issue; however, we have not heard back from them since our last correspondence with them in early August. Like any company that has APIs or an SDK, Skype has certain rules that guide the development of apps using those tools. Such rules help protect the Skype brand and our end user experience.

While it is clear that Nimbuzz and Skype have their own set of issues, a statement from Skype indicates that the company is cracking down on the use of Skype API/SDK on mobile handsets. When asked if Skype was preventing access by makers of mobile apps, a Skype spokeswoman sent the following response:

Currently, our APIs and SDK are designed for third-party hardware and desktop software application development. Distribution of a third-party Skype developer application through a mobile phone network operator or mobile handset manufacturer is only permitted with the prior written consent of Skype. Because of the way our software works and the differences between the mobile and PC ecosystems, we have these rules in place to protect the Skype brand and Skype user experience. To ensure this, we only work with mobile developers, operators, and handset manufacturers committed to delivering the best Skype user experience, as we’ve shown with 3, Nokia, Verizon and most recently KDDI.

?Lucrative deals with phone companies like 3, Verizon Wireless and KDDI are making it clear where Skype sees its future revenues. Similarly, Skype has found major success with its apps on the iPhone, making it a good source of revenues in the future. And the company is clearly willing to do what it takes to protect both of those markets.

Related research from GigaOM PRO (subscription required):

18 Responses to “Skype Boots Nimbuzz, Tightens Grip On Ecosystem”

  1. How about this theory: Nimbuzz got a whole bunch of Skype users and now wants to get them to use their competitive paid service, originally named: “NimbuzzOut”. Nimbuzz uses the fact that Skype’s accused them of breaching their developer terms to quit the Skype crack its been smoking, publicly blames Skype for this and hopes a lot of these disenfranchised Skype users now become happy NimbuzzOut users. Nimbuzz has raised $25m in funding and NimbuzzOut seems to be its main/only business model.

    How does Nimbuzz reward users for staying with Nimbuzz:

    “We’re offering you a 15% bonus credit to use on NimbuzzOut. That’s 15% extra on top of the credits you want to purchase.”

    How very kind :)

  2. perhaps nimbuzz could now work on enhancing the googletalk part of their client to support the new gmail calling to/from PSTN feature. i am sure this would be very popular and give the nimbuzz brand a really big boost.

  3. I think I know whats the issue here. I was waiting for Skype to catch up to it eventually, and seems like they did.

    I have a subscription on Skype, with one of their monthly plans which allows calling to some mobile and landline numbers unlimited. The skype client on mobile doesnt allow for that function to be excercised. If i have to use that “subscription”, I have to be using a desktop client. The Nimbuzz client however allowed for dialing numbers out perfectly fine. So if in office, or near a wifi hotspot or on 3G, login into Nimbuzz, dial a number and voila! the call goes through perfectly fine.

    I can see how this might be a violation, because skype could get into trouble with mobile operators because of this. Its potential revenue loss – on the other hand skype would also want to monetize on this somehow. Its a bit of greed, its also a bit of business sense – and through all that skype is going through, I guess they are being thorough.

    Really appreaciated the ‘feature’ while it lasted in Nimbuzz though. It was actually, very very convenient.

    • Nimbuzz is pretty much Standard. Specially the VoIP portion using XMPP Jingle.

      Skype is going down down down, and want hardware manufactures to rescue then instead of having an Open Ecosystem.

  4. Ronald Stepp

    If Skype is always striving to make sure everyone has the best experience, why are 30 million people using nimbuzz and not the official skype client? Obviously they need to remove support from the official client since it can’t seem to get 100% of people who use skype to use skype.

    Hypocricy and its handmaiden, Greed, thy name is Skype.

    PS does Skype ever come out and say what exactly is being done wrong in Nimbuzz or Fring?

    • Nikhlesh

      I guess one big reason why people use 3rd party applications is that they allow login to multiple networks- Gtalk, Facebook and Skype. It is much more convenient and Skype should realise that. At the end of the day, how would it matter to them if a customer is coming direct or via nimbuzz. They are bothered with the $ anyways which would come to Skype.

  5. Tobias from Nimbuzz here:

    This statement from Skype is, as in previous cases, misleading and may been seen as a try to move the focus away from the real matter at hand – the loss of freedom to Skype and Nimbuzz users.

    We have always ensured focus on delivering only top quality of service.

    We hope that Skype reconsiders their decision and considers the enormous popularity of Nimbuzz around the globe, which proves people don’t want to be tied to one service, or channel of communications.

    The way forward is to empower people and that is our mission – to give everyone the power to communicate with anyone in the world, however they want to, across any network, computer or mobile device.

    For more information please visit our blog at :