Feeds

Skypocracy under fire

Gizmo calls foul

Top three mobile application threats

It's one of the world's most popular communications systems. But the company jealously guards its closed, proprietary technology, shunning well-established open industry standards. No, it's not Microsoft and the system isn't Exchange. It's Skype - but the parallels are spooky.

Last month Michael Robertson, scourge of the recording industry, launched an open gateway that allows any SIP-based VoIP system to piggyback onto eBay's closed Skype network. Gizmo's OpenSky gateway achieves this by creating an alias for every Skype user, placing them in a unified namespace. Like the proverbial cat, the Skype protocol is out of the bag, and now anyone can initiate or receive Skype calls on non-Skype software.

(Calls through OpenSky are limited in duration - Robertson is really aiming the gateway at businesses, the same target market as eBay).

This week eBay hit back with an SIP-compatible gateway of its own. But for Robertson, it's the latest in a long line of vapourware announcements that promise to open up the Skype system, but never quite deliver. In September, Skype announced integration software that interfaces with Asterisk, the standards-based software libre PBX software, called Skype for Asterisk. It's still in a limited, closed beta.

You'll recall that Microsoft's Outlook was designed to use simple internet protocols for its email and calendar functions, only wrapped in dense and impenetrable RPC calls, obfuscating communications over the wire. This has successfully maintained Exchange as the "default gateway". Over a decade Microsoft has made regular "interoperability" announcements, and even dabbled in its own version of "open source" - the latter without three of the four freedoms of free software, of course. Skype has also admitted violating the GPL. And as for leveraging one monopoly to create another - well, insert your own punchline.

The irony is here quite rich.

Skype presents itself as a "disruptive" business - but it hates having its own business disrupted by open network standards. The charge of hypocrisy arises because Skype quite likes telling other telecoms companies how to do business, and seeks to make its own definition of "open" into a government-backed regulation. Closed Skype wants open networks, where eBay demands a new industry body to replace existing standards bodies such as 3GPP and the IETF.

Skype has also retaliated with some strongarm tactics: closing down their rival's PayPal account, which many Gizmo callers use to buy call credits.

"They said the products we sell are too questionable which seems quite odd because we sell identical services to what Skype sells," Robertson told us. "We tried to work with them to get our account turned back on but they refused. This is an odd decision to shut us down after we've had a successful account for many years that has moved hundreds of thousands of dollars through it." ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.