Skype Accelerates IM/Presence Race
By ROBERT LIU
TMCnet Wireless and Technology Columnist
Skype is adding fuel to the fire that is the IM/Presence market. Next week, the privately held company based in Luxembourg that revolutionized Internet telephony with its peer-to-peer softphone plans to open up its platform to anyone who wants to integrate Skype’s presence and instant messaging services into Web applications.
Skype confirmed the Application Programming Interface (API) for its SkypeNet and SkypeWeb services will be made available to anyone in the Skype Developer Program. By integrating the ability to instantly chat and alert others to their online availability into applications like online gaming, e-commerce, communications and/or productivity, the goal is the become the largest open instant messaging platform in the world, the company said in a press release.
The move comes on the same day that Google unleashed its highly anticipated Google Talk IM platform. But according to the Associated Press, Google could face an uphill battle as a newcomer to the instant messaging market -- already well established by MSN Messenger with 14.1 million, Yahoo Messenger with 19.1 million, and the almighty AOL AIM with 41.6 million U.S. users.
Yet Skype appears to be pinning its hopes on the ability for developers to take its open API and integrate the IM/presence platform to access the estimated 51 million people already registered to use Skype’s free services. Skype said its service is offered in 27 languages and has already been downloaded over 150 million ties by 225 countries and territories. In addition to the free users, Skype claims to have over 2 million people using its SkypeIn paid services and supports over 3 million people using the service concurrently. In that sense, Skype's believes it is already larger than AOL.
"In two short years, Skype has pioneered a revolution in global Internet communications by making it simple for anyone with an Internet connection to make and receive superior quality phone calls for free," said Niklas Zennström, Skype CEO and co-founder. "People love to talk, and voice is fast becoming the key category for global Internet communications. Skype’s mission is to make communicating through the Internet natural and easy to do, so in addition to voice communications we offer the power of both instant messaging and presence, which have become as ubiquitous as email over the last five years. As we enter our third year in business and as the only company totally focused on global Internet communications, we think now is a perfect time to make these popular features available to anyone who wants to build community and communications into their website or applications."
For more on Skype, be sure to catch Niklas Zennström's keynote speech at TMC's INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & Expo, October 24-27, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. For more details, other speakers and show highlights, please visit the official Web site of the show at http://www.tmcnet.com/voip/conference/.
Robert Liu is Executive Editor at TMCnet. Previously, he was Executive Editor at Jupitermedia and has also written for CNN, A&E, Dow Jones and Bloomberg. For more articles, please visit Robert Liu's columnist page.