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June 2007
Volume 10 / Number 6
The VoIP Authority
Greg Galitzine

Skype Continues to Innovate

By Greg Galitzine, The VoIP Authority

Paul Amery, Skype's director of the Skype Developer Program, delivered a keynote at the Communications Developer conference last month, during which he officially announced Skype's new Game Developer Program and the introduction of a brand-new Skype Game Channel, which is accessible through the Skype Extras Manager and which provides a quick and easy way for developers to promote their software to users.

The Skype Game Developer Program is designed to give third-party game developers access to the nearly 200 million registered Skype users through the justannounced Skype Channel.

In a recent interview I conducted with Amery, he spoke at length about the Skype development community and the most popular applications for Skype.

"I was recently asked to describe the Skype Developer Program (SDP)," Amery told me. "I like to compare Skype to an amazing mansion, with the Skype Developer Program being the beautiful orchards and gardens around the house. We tend to the trees and plants for Skype so that they flower and bear fruit. Some might refer to this as our 'ecosystem.'"

I asked Amery what were the most downloaded applications for Skype? He said that the most popular application overall is CrazyTalk for Skype from Reallusion. CrazyTalk for Skype is a piece of software designed to allow users to use live avatars and emotions while on Skype video calls. According to Amery, "…it lip synchs a video avatar to your speech. It's a lot of fun and has been downloaded more than four million times to date."

For professional users, the most popular Skype for Business Extra is the Pamela Call Recorder, which makes it easy to record Skype calls.

Explained Amery, "Skype (news - alert) users are doing more than just placing voice calls, and we are constantly looking for new ways to enhance their overall Internet communications experience."

Amery, who previously headed up developer and partner programs at Symbian and Orange, believes that the Skype Developer Program is a win-win situation for developers as well as for Skype's nearly 200 million registered users worldwide.

Says Amery, "We want to encourage the development of compelling applications and content for users, which will make users want to communicate and do even more with Skype. We want to create a rapid route to market for third-party applications, so that the developers can generate revenue streams. And we want to support innovation among the developers who are building complementary services that enhance the core Skype software."

In other recent Skype news, Skype took the wraps off a deal with Wal-Mart, whereby Skype will market its products through Wal-Mart. The company is offering a discount calling card offering three months of unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada for just $8.85.

According to TMCnet's Tom Keating, Skype calling cards are indeed going to be placed in the "prime" checkout aisle location, which "could prompt some spur-of-the-moment purchases from consumers looking to try Skype's service, which will further cement Skype's dominant position."

And in a busy May, which saw Skype announce Skype 3.2 for Windows, including a series of new features that give users more options to personalize their application, the company also released a new version for Macintosh users.

Skype for Mac 2.6 offers a call-transfer feature that's not yet available to Windows users. In addition to the Mac-only transfer feature, other additions to Skype for Mac 2.6 include:

  • The ability to join public chats
  • A chat typing indicator
  • Skype Prime: call a premium-service provider and pay for their advice and knowledge with Skype credit
  • Automatic updates; and
  • DTMF tones for automatic answering services available during Skype-to-Skype calls.

Other improvements include tweaks in the way Skype handles birthday reminders and other notifications.

As they approach the 200 million user threshold, Skype continues to innovate. I'm excited to see what new applications — currently on the drawing board of one of the 4,000 developers who are part of the Skype Developer Program - will be made available to the public in the days to come.

Greg Galitzine is Group Editorial Director for TMC’s IP Communications Media Group.


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