Skype’s Developer Blog has an interesting post this morning from Peeter Mõtsküla asking for comment on a proposal to separate the Skype GUI from the underlying Skype engine. Cool!
As I have said many times in the past, softphones are platforms. The future role of the softphone is an integration platform for desktop applications. Skype’s platform strategy, today, is only half there. It relies on old IPC technologies, and forces developers to always have the Skype GUI front and center. This move would address the deficiencies of their current strategy, and would give developers the ability to create bots, specialized Skype softphones for different classes of users (think business), and potentially native Skype devices rather than the PC attached handsets of today. It’s a very smart move, and has been a long time coming.
Exposing the Skype engine in this fashion will also be a core part of Skype’s ecosystem strategy. Everytime a Skype API is embedded into a complementary product from a partner, it increases the longevity of Skype in the market place, and it gives Skype the leverage it needs to negotiate the best deals possible with the market, including the PSTN operators.
Bottom line: when softphones become platforms, the product is no longer the technology itself, but the API. Success needs to be measured not by the number of Skype branded softphone clients in the market place, but by the number of applications communicating using Skype protocols.