SkypeKit: The Next Step In Skype Everywhere

Earlier today Skype announced the pending launch of a beta program for an SDK called SkypeKit. SkypeKit is intended to allow hardware developers to embed Skype client functionality into their devices.

SkypeKit seems to be a logical next step after having recently partnered with LG, Samsung and Panasonic to build embedded Skype clients for their newest HDTVs. I mentioned this previously.

There’s a bunch of coverage of the SkypeKit launch available at various places online. Engadget has their say and some nice pics of the Grandstream GXV-3140 Media Phone running Skype. Also a Litl webbook that looks like it’s running Skype with video.

Jim Courtney has a nice take on it, in good detail. He has considerable experience dealing Skype and their retail partner, the Spanish firm In-Store Solutions.

By the way, just this morning I received a notice informing me that voice mash-up pioneer Thomas Howe is joining In-Store Solutions as their new CTO. This will make them an even more interesting company to watch in the coming year.

There are a lot of facets of SkypeKit to be considered. Unlike past mash-ups like SIP2SIS it doesn’t require the presence of a Skype client running in the background. It permits truly a headless client application that simply takes advantage of the Skype feature set.

SkypeKit therefore provides a means of accessing the Skype network while leveraging their SILK audio codec. That’s pretty exciting. I wonder if anyone will wrap this into a gateway device and connect the SIP and Skype realms in a wideband manner?

As far as video calling goes SkypeKit should enable video capability in a variety of devices.

Hello, Polycom & Cisco….it appears that Grandstream has beaten you out of the gate! Skype enabled desktop media phones make a certain amount of sense. Skype is already a leader in point-to-point video calling.

LifeSize has offered audio interop between Skype and their video conference systems for a while. Perhaps SkypeKit will open the door to HD video interop as well? That’d be sweet.

With Skype-For-TV moving to usurp the low-end of the video calling space expanded Skype interop could be a great way to add value to more costly systems that might otherwise get stuck in a squeezed middle-market.

I for one hope that Tivo sees this as a wake-up call and uses SkypeKit to make every Tivo Premiere a Skype client. With the addition of something like the Freetalk TV Camera for Samsung a Tivo system could make any existing HDTV into a video conference end-point.

They have got to start bringing a little more creativity to how they leverage the fantastic little computer that is in every single Tivo device. If it can play music and make slide shows from the family photos why not let the family place high-quality video calls to the grandparents?

Heck, do like Panasonic and sell your own USB camera & microphone device as an accessory. You already do this with wifi adapters. Don’t be shy…make a few bucks!

Dave Zatz doubts that Tivo will act to partner with Skype. I hope they clue-in and join the party.

Wandering a little further around to the backside of this announcement, I wonder what it means for things like Skype-For-Asterisk? Does the opportunity to create new gateway appliances that may not require per-channel licensing erode it’s potential? Does Skype need to consider who gets access to the SDK so as to in some way protect existing partners? Is that even possible? Or does the ever expanding Skype ecosystem imply there’s a niche for everyone in serving the masses?

There’s certainly never a dull moment in the Skype universe.