Wednesday, June 23, 2010

SkypeKit may bring calling to both devices and apps

Two developments occurred recently that are clear signs of where telecommunications is going: Google announced that Google Voice would be available across the U.S., and Skype announced that it was testing SkypeKit, a beta program that would allow developers to include Skype calling within other products and applications.

Google Voice, of course, is Google's free phone service which allows users to forward calls to multiple phones, manage voicemail on their computers, etc. The service is free but still requires another phone to work. In other words, Google Voice is not yet Vonage or Skype. But for many people who are considering dumping their landlines and going completely mobile Google Voice can push them the rest of the way.
SkypeKit, on the other hand, is a fascinating idea that I immediately felt had great media use potential: "a collection of software and APIs that allows Internet-connected devices or applications to offer Skype voice and video calls." In other words, by using Skype's API one could, in theory, build into your device or app the ability to call.

A simple example that seems obvious is linking phone numbers that appear in ads to Skype. Just as it is possible to touch a web address that appears in an ad that appears in an iPad magazine and allow the reader to go directly to the advertisers website, it might be possible to have phone numbers be live links to Skype. Any publisher that is first to offer live calling directly from newspaper or magazine ads will be at a distinct advantage.

Starting today developers can register for an invitation to take part in Skype's Beta Program.