For Skype, Tense Moments, New Deals

With the big three – Yahoo, Microsoft and Google – making their respective moves into the Voice-over-IM space, it is very likely that folks over at Skype are feeling the heat. Recent moves indicate, that company is slowly coming to terms with the harsh reality that easy growth in the west is over. So perhaps it is looking east.

There is news that Skype will be bundled with all Sony Vaio PCs sold in Japan, a good move given the strong presence of Sony in one of the most broadband-enabled countries. Then there is an increasing coziness between Hutchinson Whampoa of Hong Kong and Skype. Dow Jones reports that HW might buy 5% stake in the company. (There goes the IPO theory!) There is some boneheaded comment about Skype being valued at several billion euros. Oh well… Andy says he won’t be surprised by a handset joining the investor ranks as well. The company today announced a JV with TOM Online (also owned by the same guy who owns HW) which is majority owned by TOM, and will push the software/service to its wireless mobile customers.

But that’s just in recent days. I have received emails from Skype PR telling me that there are 400 partners who have developed Skype related hardware and software, and more will follow. They made the announcement on SkypeWeb and Skype Net. The company has been secretly reaching out to developers trying to use Skype API and Skype Platform. They realize that with the big three’s marketing muscle, their IM/Presence platform is under threat. The Gizmo Project guru Michael Robertson, is not impressed and says that Skype API is not really an API.

> Skypeweb and skypenet are just a smoke screen to convey that Skype is opening up, but they are really not. If you have to download a program (THEIR program) to talk to it that’s NOT an API. An API lets you talk to the service/format using a completely different program. Skype wants to SAY that they are open and that they have an API when they really don’t. They wrap their declaration in a friendly puffed up “we want to give back to the net”. And it’s not coincidence this came 2 days AFTER Google says they actually will use open standards and connect directories to others.