Skype has just announced today that the Skype Extras System will not continue. This means no more third-party applications for Skype will be certified and no new extras will be added to the “Tools” -> “Extras” menu in the Skype client. All existing entries will not be removed until the certification period expires. This does not include the Skype Public API which allows third party software to connect to Skype and control some functions and do things like call recording etc. Skype says this API will be maintained in future.
But this shut-down also includes the Skype Credit payment, which will be switched off shortly. No third-party software will then be able to accept Skype Credit payments.
So how does this affect Scendix/PamConsult products? The simple answer is: not very much.
Let’s take a look at all our products we have for Skype:
Pamela: Pamela only uses the Skype Public API and not the Skype Extras system. So this will not affect Pamela at all.
PamFax: With our upgrade to Pamfax 2.0 including a complete new architecture back in april this year, we are now completely independent from Skype’s Extras system. Current version of PamFax runs on any Windows or Mac machine even if Skype is not installed at all. What we loose in PamFax will be the possibility to buy PamFax Credits with Skype Credits and the entry in Skype’s “Extras” menu (once it will be removed by Skype; “later”). We are already investigating in other payment methods to use PamFax pay-as-you-go for some time now, as we heard from our users that only Skype Credit payment (which was not available on Mac or Linux at all) is not enough. So this is a very good time to add some more payment flexibility to PamFax.
As the fax-sending process is done by our own datacenters all around the world and not by the Skype network, PamFax will even work if they shut off Skype completely. Sometimes, independence is something very nice
Pamela Call Recorder: The Pamela Call Recorder can be seen as a small version of Pamela. So it will work even after this change in Skype. More then a year ago we built a “stand alone” version of the Pamela Call Recorder which can be downloaded from www.pamcorder.com. This version will work even if the user has a Skype version without the Extras Manager system. Just like PamFax you can just keep using the product.
We are still thinking about why Skype goes into this direction: the latest history has shown that opening up a product as a platform and to allow third-party software to connect and to enhance the core products can turn into a real self-runner making the platform and therefore the core product itself much, much more valuable. Think about what these products would be without any third-party software, plugins, addons or whatever they are called for each product: WinAmp, eBay, Apple iPhone, FireFox and thousands of other software products more that are good because there are good plugins for this product.
Could you imagine using an iPhone without any third party software installed on it? What if there would not be a possibility to buy iPhone apps as easy as it is right now? Would you enter your credit card data into a shop system you never saw before from a company that you have never heard before to buy a fun app for USD 1.99 just to try it out? Apple has shown that a very well done “Extras system” with a safe, easy and WORKING payment possibility can boost sales of the apps and the core product.
If Skype did not believe in their Extras System 1.0, perhaps it was because it had so many problems and was not extended for at least 2 years now. It was developed once and then there was no progress at all. Some major things that made the Skype Extras system a flop in our eyes: a) only on windows, not available on Mac or Linux, b) horrible client-only Skype payments implementation, c) very unflexible (games as developer-examples shows the focus when it was developed…), and loads more.
But why it’s so hard for a multi-billion-dollar company to hire some people with the according knowledge and make it better? Skype Extras System 2.0? Just shutting down the whole thing is just a decision at the round table, but standing up for a product platform and fight to make it better than it was before to make it a success is a hard and long road to go.
We believe that some changes are always a good chance to make something much better than it was before. For us, this means finding more ways to market our software and the opportunity to change the pay-as-you-go payment process in PamFax will be a great step forward in making our products even better.
So: R.I.P. Skype Extras System. Let’s find something better out there!