Skype opens IM service to third parties

Skype extends its presence and IM technology to anyone who wants to integrate it into their Web sites or applications.

Skype Technologies hopes to broaden the use of its presence and instant messaging (IM) technologies by making them available to all developers wanting to integrate them into their Web site or applications, the company announced Wednesday.

The announcement comes one day after Google announced plans to expand beyond its core Web search engine and offer an IM service with voice communications, muscling in on Skype's territory.

As part of its program to help build new types of Web-based communication services, Skype is opening up its SkypeNet and SkypeWeb APIs (application programming interfaces) to developers worldwide, the company said.

Although the two-year-old, Luxembourg-based company has been offering presence and IM services for some time, it is best known for its core VOIP (voice over the Internet Protocol) offering.

"We've always been about openness on the Net," said Skype cofounder Janus Friis in a telephone interview. "Now we're taking this openness one step further."

Friis said the move to open its APIs wasn't prompted by Google's decision to enter the VOIP market, but rather as a part of a strategy to make it easier for companies, organisations and individuals to connect to the Skype platform and use the Web-based services.

Skype says it has more than 51 million registered users for its free services, and more than 2 million using its paid services.

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