Skype Lures Developers with Free API

By reaching out to developers, the peer-to-peer VOIP specialist hopes to gain real estate for its voice chat tool on hardware devices and software applications.

Peer-to-peer VOIP specialist Skype Technologies wants to slow-dance with telephony developers.

The Luxembourg-based company on Tuesday announced the launch of a noncommercial API (application programming interface) initiative aimed at finding real estate for its voice chat tool on hardware devices and software applications.

Skype, the P2P (peer to peer)-based telephony application launched by Kazaa co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom last August, said the free SDK (software development kit) would include two APIs—one to handle access to phone devices and another to allow third-party applications to access Skype functionality.

The Skype API ships for free with the latest versions of Skype and is only available for noncommercial developers. A company spokeswoman told that commercial, affiliate and other partnership opportunities would be handled on an individual basis.

"We wanted to get the API out there because we believe an open platform and the ability to expand voice communications is important in both the commercial and noncommercial realm," the spokeswoman said.

She said the API would be perfect to kick-start development of PIMs (Personal Information Managers) or applications to shuttle on-demand content such as digital music or video files.

"With Skype integration, Skype contacts can be synchronized with a PIM contact list. PIM contacts can have a Skype name field. The PIM user can call the people on his contact list or send them Skype IMs directly from the PIM interface without having to switch to the Skype client program," the company said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifThe FCC has ruled that VOIP is not subject to state regulations. Click here to read more.

Another scenario could see the Skype API being used to build call center and IVR (interactive voice response) software. Although Skype is largely seen as a communication tool for individual users, the company said businesses could use the API to provide connectivity between incoming calls and existing back-end telephone systems.

This could be extended to handle ticket booking, payment, pizza ordering and many other services.

Online gaming developers also could use the Skype API to integrate voice chat capabilities directly into the game interface.

The Skype network claims more than 14.5 million users globally, with about 100,000 new users joining daily. In recent months, the company has expanded the service to offer paid calls to tradition phones, and plans are in place to allow traditional phones to call Skype users.

/zimages/6/28571.gif Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.