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Skype Announces Voice Services Program

This morning, Skype announced their new Voice Services Program.  Skype has partnered with three VoiceXML platform providers: Tellme, VoxBuilder and Voxeo, giving content providers the ability to host and bill for that content on the Skype Network.  Services can be free, or paid for, at the developers discretion.

This is a fascinating development.

First, Skype has adopted the AOL walled garden content model.  Host your content in our network, and we’ll share the revenue we collect from the user with you.  This strategy worked well for AOL, especially when they had the momentum behind them.  MSN, the johnny-come-lately to the online services party, was overwhelmed by the Internet.  So, projecting forward 5 years, will we see a walled garden Skype surrounded by an open services world built on SIP, or will the promise of open services on SIP fall by the wayside as carriers seek to wall those services in?

Second, Skype has effectively turned their higher level API strategy over to three third parties.  VoiceXML is far richer, and easier to write code for, than the Skype API.  It seems certain that the Skype primitives will quickly become part of the VoiceXML offerings for each of these platform providers.  I can only think of one reason to do this — Skype doesn’t have the manpower to build both a platform and extend their network.  What a tough decision that must have been.

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