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Communications Technology

Skype Kills Extras Program 104

Several different sources are reporting that Skype is shutting down their "Extras" program. The program was designed to help developers release third-party applications for the VoIP service. "Developers and users will have some adjustment time, though. Skype won't certify any new submissions, but it won't yank support for existing Extras either, that is, until their certificates expire. You'll still be able to install existing Extras through the Windows desktop client, and you'll still see them featured in the Skype shop. Skype will also continue to maintain its public API. Since many Skype Extras are sold to users as premium content, the shut down also has a financial impact for profiting developers. They'll have [...] until December 11, to continue using Skype Credit. Developers will need to submit a final invoice by January 25th; after that Skype will shutter its third-party shop."
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Skype Kills Extras Program

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just like Macs.
    Using skype on a Mac? Unthinkable.

    • Skype is on the way out. "Jumped the shark". The new owners clearly misunderstand why people use Skype.
      • There was a good reason to use skype?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Winckle ( 870180 )

          It's free.

          That's why they are cutting off one of the ways they get revenue. Hang on a minute...

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            It's free.

            So is SIP.

            • SIP is indeed free (in some cases), but it does not offer a way for you or your contacts to indicate whether they are available or willing to accept calls. And the integrated IM client is useful if you can't be bothered running a full IRC session, especially if your contacts are not au fait with IRC.
              • the integrated IM client is useful if you can't be bothered running a full IRC session

                So use Jabber. For that matter, there's also Jingle. And for those who need it all in a nice, user-friendly package, there's Google Talk -- which supports this and SIP.

                In fact, the only advantage that Skype has over these is that people already have Skype.

                • So use Jabber. For that matter, there's also... yada yada...
                  In fact, the only advantage that Skype has over these is that people already have Skype.

                  Yes, I am perfectly well aware these alternatives exist. But whether you like it or not, you can't just write off the fact that Skype has so much saturation in the VOIP market (and to a lesser extent IM) that you might as well concede that Skype is as pervasive as Microsoft in its own way. (Disclaimer: I use no Microsoft products at all.)

                  I consider myself r
                  • you can't just write off the fact that Skype has so much saturation in the VOIP market

                    I think I made my point, though. Pop back up the thread to silas moeckel asking "There was a good reason to use Skype?" And Winckle saying "It's free." That's not a good reason.

                    You've pretty much made the argument by now that the only good reason to use Skype is that everyone uses Skype.

                    I consider myself reasonably tech-savvy, but many, or indeed most [sigh] of my acquaintances are not, and Skype offers a convenient and relatively intuitive communication channel that covers most bases very well.

                    And Google Talk doesn't? Have you tried it?

                    I acknowledge that Skype has many faults, but you can't force everybody to change just because you insist on sitting on your high horse and insisting that anyone who disagrees is a moron.

                    I don't. I have Skype installed, because I do prefer to actually talk to someone, rather than walk them through downloading something first.

                    But that's not really a good reason to us

              • Actually SIP does support status messages (SIP Presence):

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Session_Initiation_Protocol#Instant_messaging_.28IM.29_and_presence [wikipedia.org]

                http://www.cs.columbia.edu/sip/drafts_presence.html [columbia.edu]

                Most hard & soft phones already make use of it.
        • Re:Skype is for gays (Score:5, Interesting)

          by NoYob ( 1630681 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @04:07PM (#29393097)
          Calling when your traveling internationally. Instead of having to mess around with phone cards or cell phones, you bring your laptop, hook into the hotel's internet connection (many times free) and call away.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 )
            My T-mobile blackberry will tunnel the call over any Wifi access point (for free). Skype has indeed jumped the shark.
          • I know a Brazilian who uses it to call home, to people who DO have a computer. The cost is nothing in that case, of course. But before that it was phone cards so if they didn't have a computer on the other end it would be Skypeout and they would make the money. But no one would ever have heard of Skype if it wasn't free, so in the balance it works for them.

          • by sznupi ( 719324 )

            Getting cheap prepaid simcard wherever you are isn't really inferior...just different (and generally a good idea)

            Bot solutions have their pros and cons.

            And this is, I guess, best of both worlds:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3_Skypephone_Series [wikipedia.org]
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/INQ [wikipedia.org]

          • Instead of having to mess around with phone cards or cell phones, you bring your laptop, hook into the hotel's internet connection (many times free) and call away.

            Oh that sounds way easier than using a cell phone!

            I think you should have made the comparison based upon costs not ease.

        • if they leaked the code for their iPhone App (so we can easily VOIP over 3G)... then yes, there would be a great reason to use skype.

          • Jailbreak you damn phone, install the app VoIPover3G and enjoy.

            It doesn't matter if you have the Skype source how are you going to get in onto the app-store?
            Apple won't let certain app run over 3G and restricts them to wireless, Skype being one of them.
        • Not only is it a fairly decent way of calling each other, at least the older versions used to have a quite awesome chat function. I'm member of a community who extensively uses Skype for chatting, and prefers it over IRC for one reason - it has a logging function and messages will be delivered to you even if you aren't online when they get written.

          To be fair though, it's performance is *nowhere* close to that of a nice IRC client...try opening a Skype chat with 2k+ unread messages >_> .
          • My customers tape-out complex chips. One customer use to use Yahoo Messenger to help engineers communicate at crunch time. The experience sucked. Every time you closed your window, you had to be invited back to the group chat, which rarely happened. I had them all switch to Skype (yeah, I know... they're evil). Our next tape-out had a Skype based chat session you couldn't leave without shaming yourself, even if you turned off your computer at night, and everyone knew what everyone else was doing. It w

          • IRC can do that, too, it just takes slightly more effort.

            What IRC can do that Skype can't is support more than one client, thus forcing clients to actually compete on functionality.

            • You surely mean IRC + Bouncer. And even then, offline PM delivery isn't guaranteed at all (you can drop while you are receiving the backlog).

              And even then, within a few minutes of sending messages, Skype lets you edit them (no more lines correcting typoes) or remove them; not to mention voice calls and video calls service (one of the precious few that work on Linux), the convenient Screen Sharing and more niceties.
              • not to mention voice calls and video calls service (one of the precious few that work on Linux)

                Voice, that's along with Ekiga, Twinkle, KPhone, Gnome Meeting... There are tons of SIP phones for Linux.

        • There was a good reason to use skype?

          you must be American and not call international very often :(

          • I am American and I do call internationally I just use a standards compliant VoIP phone rather than some proprietary network. It works with my standards complaint PBX that has multiple interfaces into the VoIP and PSTN networks.

      • Oprah uses it and she has a shitload of sheep out there.
        • Horror of bon bon eating house wives video chatting with each other just ran though my head the humanity of it.

          Maybe somebody can go bribe her to hawk some other standards compliant voip app?

      • Re:Skype is for gays (Score:4, Informative)

        by jgtg32a ( 1173373 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @04:11PM (#29393149)
        $0.02 a min to China, right? That's all I use it for, its even more awesome when you put Skype on a jailbroken iPhone, Skype over 3g TYVM.
        • by icydog ( 923695 )
          I used to use Skype, but they charge 2.1 cents/min to China, plus a 3.9 cent connection fee. Google Voice is 2 cents a minute with no connection fee, so it's better for that purpose.
        • I'm curious whether you have better latency where you use 3G than I. For me Skype over 3G has a significant lag making it almost unusible.
  • I wonder if this is a strategic move to possibly get a Skype App approved for the iPhone -- removing the third-party content avenue. Just like the Commador 64 App.
  • I have never understood how Skype intends to make money. I use it for free communication over the Internet with friends who live at a distance. It saves me long distance charges/cell phone minutes, but I don't pay anything for it. If it cost, I would switch to some other means of communication.
    • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @04:11PM (#29393143)

      Are you kidding? Lots of people, me included, pay for skypeout minutes so we can call landlines and cell phones. Other pay for skypein numbers so they can get a number you can call in to from outside lines.

      They probably make a heft amount of cash. Ebay recently sold them for quite a bit.

      • how they price things i doubt they make a hefty sum of cash however most of the internet traffic is managed by the customers so they must be covering there costs with at least some kind of profit.

        im one who pays for both skype out and in. so much cheaper then paying for a land line. also much easier to make conference calls from

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by alexo ( 9335 )

        Ebay recently sold them for quite a bit.

        Unfortunately for eBay, they originally bought them for quite a bit more.

    • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @04:11PM (#29393151)

      I have never understood how Skype intends to make money.

      They make money on people who need to talk with people who use regular phones.

      You know... Like calling overseas to family that don't own computers.

    • by fatalwall ( 873645 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @04:12PM (#29393157)

      If you have a reason to have a physical land line number but dont want to pay $30 a month to the local phone company its great!! $60 a year gives me a physical number people can call in from a normal phone. The calling out feature is handy at times as well. Say you need to have a 4-5 way call. Most phones area a pain to start that on. With skype i just right click the contact and add to conference. They can be using skype as well or in the case of the technically challenged they can use a land line.

      Although i am unsure if ill say with all the shifts that are happening with it. Killing off features is a great way of giving the finger to your paying customers

      • If you have a reason to have a physical land line number but dont want to pay $30 a month to the local phone company its great!! $60 a year

        ...isn't as cheap as MagicJack ($20/yr).

        • Hmmm... [google.com], sounds like a great product. Stellar reviews and opinions.
          • Never mind that; your computer must be on to receive a call, otherwise it goes to voicemail. And no, you can't use it with a tiny Linux box that has a USB port; it only works with Windows or Intel Macs. Might as well just use a software-only phone.
        • by cjb658 ( 1235986 )

          I tried Magicjack but the call quality was terrible. It wasn't my internets because I just had the number forwarded to my regular phone.

          Then Google Voice came along...

      • $60 a year gives me a physical number people can call in from a normal phone.

        Perhaps the best part is that it's a number people cna call in from a normal phone with charges relative to the number they're calling.

        Or put more clearly: Do you have friends or business contacts in England? Australia? China? Any country supported by SkypeIn? You can buy a number there and they can call you as if they were calling inside their own country. For a relatively cheap price, that has the potential to be extremely

    • by Wumpus ( 9548 )

      Skype is profitable, according to eBay.

      • Skype is profitable, according to eBay.

        So that's profitable, as in they bring in more revenue than expenses.
        But is it a reasonable profit for a company worth $2.9B?

  • KGB considerations? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cryfreedomlove ( 929828 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @04:03PM (#29393059)
    Russia considers Skype a threat. [reuters.com] I wonder if this shut down is an effort to kill off my idea for using Skype to communicate on hostile internets. I wanted to create a skype Extra that uses PGP to encrypt the voice traffic between two parties communicating on a network that is controlled by an oppressive government that does not respect privacy.
    • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @04:13PM (#29393179)

      Skype traffic is already encrypted and law enforcement agencies around the world hate that. Not just the KGB (which doesnt exist anymore btw its FSB now).

      Call records can be subpoenaed. This is how pranknet was broken up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      There's no need to reinvent the wheel, and you can use open protocols too. May I suggest you apply zfone, from the inventor of PGP, to encrypt your SIP phone calls?

      http://zfoneproject.com/getstarted.html [zfoneproject.com]

      • by zn0k ( 1082797 )

        From that link: "It does not work with Skype."

        Though it may be possible to use ZRTP with Skype somehow, zfone as an app seems to be out.

        • It does not work with Skype.

          Which is kind of the point. It works with SIP, which is already an open standard.

          So you're not only wanting to reinvent the wheel, you're wanting to reinvent it for a proprietary protocol? It works with those seven or eight clients listed, all of which are interoperable, but that one is all you want?

          I guess I'm not sure I see the point.

      • If you have pissed some people enough to be tracked by spy agencies trying to tap your internet communication, they will likely put some high tech bug to your apartment and listen.

        I really don't understand how people could treat Skype like companies like some kind of freedom fighters. Zimmerman is freedom fighter, Skype is a private company and gives no guarantee of privacy already.

        Of course, I forgot, cold war is back and those baby eating reds are trying to tap into conversations.

    • Here's a summary of the article "Russia considers Skype a thread" for those who can't be bothered to read it:

      Owners of telecom companies of Russia say Skype threatens their companies as well as national security.
      Skype offering the possibility to make international calls a lot cheaper is one of those threats.
      Skype threatens national security because it is foreign and thus it needs to be controlled.

      Telecom companies ask to stop VoIP services otherwise it'd cause an uncontrolled fall in profits for them.
      Another way Skype threatens national security is because police can't spy on skype calls.
      The solution the telecom companies offer is to make VoIP services of their own, which would make it secure.
      Thus they need regulations to stop skype, not because they want to limit competition, but because they want the market to be "civilised".

      Basically, it's a whole lot of crap... I guess lobbying over here must be pretty much the same as what we can see here... or even worse.

    • by cjb658 ( 1235986 )

      I seem to remember a ./ article about the Chinese version of Skype having a backdoor.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @04:47PM (#29393525) Homepage

    From a business perspective, never write a "plug-in". You're too vulnerable to the whims of the vendor into which your plug-in plugs. If you want to write one for fun, fine, but it's not a sound basis for a business venture.

    • by nrgy ( 835451 ) *
      I have to disagree with you.

      In the visual effects field and graphics world plugins are part of daily life. Yes you do take the risk of the software developer dieing out or adding your functionality to the base product.

      There are a number of plugin based development companies that have been around for quiet some time and the products they offer are just as important as the applications they are made for. Every business venture has its risks and most often regardless of your business model you are at t
    • I would think that the hundreds of developers/companies that write applications (plugins) for the iPhone would disagree with you. How about the hundreds (thousands?) that write closed/open source kernel modules for Linux? Aren't these considered plugins? Apache dynamic modules? SMNP modules?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        And we all know how well the app for the iphone are doing when they do something Apple/at&t doesn't like.
    • by Jay L ( 74152 ) *

      But then would you say:

      From a business perspective, never write an application for a proprietary operating system. You're too vulnerable to the whims of the vendor that distributes the OS.


      From a business perspective, never write an application that requires hardware. You're too vulnerable to the whims of the manufacturer.

    • Slightly reworded: From a business perspective, never write an "application program". You're too vulnerable to the whims of the operating system under which your application runs. If you want to write one for fun, fine, but it's not a sound basis for a business venture.

      Thoughts? Is it just a matter of scale, where the OS has many times more "plug-ins" than an application, and thus less-likely to change drastically or disappear?

    • Starting with a plug-in is a good idea. There is existing infra-structure for you to fit in with and typically some sort of app store. You can then have some idea as to how popular your concept is and how much people are prepared to pay for it, as well as what the competition looks like. Then you can branch out to being standalone and remove the dependence on the framework vendor.

    • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

      As a person using home computers since 1980s, I have never, ever heard such behavior from any company in my life.

      Open source, closed source, never ever heard such non serious action. What amazes me is, they actually sold those extras. There is some kind of money involved and the people who buys them are their great customers who must be using Skype as paying customers, not P2P free talkers.

      If you provide an API and let people do plugins using that infrastructure, you keep it. There is no such thing as baili

    • Except if the software is open-source and free. Like with Firefox.

    • never write a plug-in

      Oh I like that, simple and easy to follow. Or is it. Don't make it a plug-in, make it standalone. This way you only depend on the whims of those who provide your development tools, libraries, operating system and in some cases, hardware devices.

      I wasn't a big fan of Skype Extras, but I specifically preferred Skype for its ability to record calls (first informing the other side), when discussing technical specifications and products, so I can go back to it and take more detailed notes.

      Skype may be trying to

    • Yeah because nobody figured out a way to monetize a plug in...
  • by osssmkatz ( 734824 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:15PM (#29394279) Journal

    Skype should change their mind. This allowed skype to be the de-facto platform. My friend with a disability needs text to speech and other things, that were available as extras or could potentially be.

  • We'll go to SIP, XMPP with Jingle & Co. I certainly couldn't care less, as I never saw the point in yet another video-capable instant messenger or alternatively another proprietary SIP clone.

  • Their first step was pissing off their developer partners, basically putting some of them out of business. Millions of lines got wasted, users who likes those tools enough to pay for them are abandoned and they will soon get "we would love to provide updates but Skype abandoned us" e-mail alerts.

    One thing even Steve Jobs admitted numerous times, even before the audience and sitting next to BillG himself: MS key to success was always working with other developers/partners. Besides being an evil empire, that

    • I don't see why Apple would ban something like Fring or Last.FM considering both are available in the AppStore right now. Apple is over the top, but they seem follow their own (vague) rules.
      • Sorry to reply to self, but I think upon further reading that you are referring to a plug-in based extensible app. True Apple wouldn't allow that, but if they were pre-compiled individual binaries released it would be just fine.
  • The only 'extra' I ever used:
    http://forum.skype.com/index.php?showtopic=412061&st=0&p=1886351&#entry1886351 [skype.com]

    It blocks the irritating contact-spammers that you can't get rid of through skype's settings. Hopefully it'll keep working for a while yet.

  • Ok, now.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by crhylove ( 205956 )

    OK, can the Pidgin team PLEASE finish up voice and video support (AND ON WINDOWS!), so I can switch everybody over?

    Thanks in Advance.

  • I find this so annoying that Skype refuses to start when SoftICE is installed on the system. There are so many debuggers out there that it doesn't react to so why dis SoftICE?

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen