Before writing my story yesterday about Skype killing off Skype For Asterisk, I had reached out to Skype's PR agency to see if there was any statement from Skype. There wasn't at the time, but today they sent over this statement from Jennifer Caukin, a spokeswoman for Skype:
Skype made the decision to retire Skype for Asterisk several months ago, as we have prioritized our focus around implementing the IETF SIP standard in our Skype Connect solution. SIP enjoys the broadest support of any of the available signaling alternatives by business communications equipment vendors, including Digium. By supporting SIP in favor of alternatives, we maximize our resources and continue to reinforce our commitment to delivering Skype on key platforms where we can meet the broadest customer demand.
Being a huge advocate of open standards, I of course applaud Skype's commitment to supporting SIP. However, as I noted two years ago in my detailed review of what was then "Skype For SIP" (and is now "Skype Connect") the fundamental difference between Skype For Asterisk and Skype's SIP offering is this:
Skype For Asterisk is/was two-way — you can make outbound calls TO Skype users.
You can't do that with Skype Connect. You can receive calls from Skype users. You can receive calls to PSTN numbers that come in across the Skype network. You can make outbound calls to PSTN numbers via the Skype network. But you can't make outbound calls to Skype users.
Skype For Asterisk could.
And therein lay much of its power.
Additionally, Skype For Asterisk passed along your Skype presence which could be used for call routing… and also supported Skype chat, too. Neither of which Skype Connect can do right now.
Skype For Asterisk provided a 2-way, multichannel connection into the Skype cloud in a way that Skype's SIP-based offering simply doesn't at this point in time. (Having said that, of course, SFA is certainly no where near as easy to set up or understand, a point Dave Michels made today.)
However, as Alec Saunders pointed out today, the economics also clearly favor Skype Connect in terms of monthly and per-minute billing versus the low one-time fee of Skype For Asterisk. Tim Panton also indicated that the Skype For Asterisk program had some challenges including the licensing of the product.
While perhaps understandable as a business decision, I know that Skype For Asterisk will be missed by many in the technical community.
Now, let's see what Skype will truly do with their SIP support in the time ahead…
P.S. And while it is of course easy to try to blame someone like Microsoft for this demise, as I noted in an earlier post, the acquisition deal isn't even remotely done yet…
By Dan York, Author and Speaker on Internet technologies - and on staff of Internet Society. Dan is employed as a Senior Content Strategist with the Internet Society but opinions posted on CircleID are entirely his own. Visit the blog maintained by Dan York here.
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