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.

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