The Future for 3rd Party Skype Developers: Bloggers Speak Out.

The recent announcement of Skype’s decision to drop its Skype Extras (marketing) program initially caused much anguish across the blogosphere; however, more sober commentary has been appearing in the past few days. To recall the announcement:

  1. Immediately: No new partner programs or upgrades will be placed into the Skype Extras
  2. Going forward: Skype Extras will remain available via the Skype for Windows client until their certification expires (which may be up to a year).

SaundersLog.Banner.Logo.180px Alec Saunders whose developer program experience crosses many platforms, in What Next, Skype?, reviews the “swift and brutal” reaction around the blogosphere, puts a perspective on the characteristics of good ecosystem programs and then measures up where Skype stands today. He concludes with:

17 points out of a possible 30. Even so, the only real killer flaw in the Skype developer program is co-marketing.  Since Skype owns the customer, they are the only cost effective channel by which a developer reaches the customer.

Without addressing these flaws, especially the co-marketing issue, Skype’s developer ecosystem will die.  It may take time, but developers will leave and go elsewhere.

Skype knows all of this, however.  The smart money is on Skype developing a new program, and judging by the recent spate of announcements around Skype in business, and the beefed up Skype for Business team, it certainly looks as if they’re going that way. It’s no coincidence that that’s where the money is too. [Author’s italics]

PamNews.logo In No Skype Extras Anymore, Scendix CTO Christoph Buenger, a veteran at developing applications for both the Skype and eBay ecosystems, outlines in a PamNews blog post  why their products are not impacted by the shutdown of Skype Extras:

So how does this affect Scendix/PamConsult products? The simple answer is: not very much.

He goes on to review how Pamela only uses the Skype API’s; how the new upgrade of PamFax to Version 2.0 made the product totally independent of the Skype Extras system (they were the only developer who had incorporated Skype Credits into a product but they also use other payment services) and their “standalone” version of Pamela Call Recorder. He concludes with:

We believe that some changes are always a good chance to make something much better than it was before. For us, this means finding more ways to market our software and the opportunity to change the pay-as-you-go payment process in PamFax will be a great step forward in making our products even better.

So: R.I.P. Skype Extras System. Let’s find something better out there!

techcrunchlogo.180px In Skype Says Next Generation Platform Will Embrace Developers Michael Arrington reports on a couple of weekend conversations with Jonathan Christensen:

Christensen says that the Extras announcement is not about Skype backing away from a robust developer platform. Rather, he says, Skype is focusing on a next generation platform that will hopefully address the deficiencies of the old program and open many more opportunities for developers to build on Skype services.

They went on to discuss third party applications that can make Skype calls directly and future web applications “leveraging Skype as a service”. But there are two reasons Skype has to continue to run on a client today:

  • Maintaining high quality calls via their current audio/video encoding
  • Skype’s p2p architecture which not only impacts latency issues but is also the major cost factor allowing free Skype-to-Skype conversations.

Read the post to see why Michael feels we’’ll first see desktop applications integrate Skype as a service first and how “the real win is when you can initiate Skype voice and video calls via web applications”. He concludes with:

Anyway, we’re looking a ways into the future with all of this. But one thing seems clear – Skype, which is happily soon to be under new management, will someday open its doors widely to developers.

Bottom line: Support for Skype developer activities is not dead; it’s evolving. No software partner’s business has been significantly impacted by the closure of the Skype Extras [marketing] program. Lots of suggestions about how Skype developer support should be executed going forward but it’s probably going to be an evolution rather than a “revolution”.

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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