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Skype throws off Nimbuzz in ad-revenue smackdown

VoIP monster tells Nimbuzz to Fring off

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Identity aggregation client Nimbuzz has joined Fring in the does-not-Skype pile, as the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) behemoth continues trimming back the parasites.

Nimbuzz tells us it has been asked to remove all Skype and SkypeOut functionality from its mobile and desktop clients, just as Fring was cut off from the Skype network earlier this year. This forces those who want to use Skype's network to use Skype's client software too.

Nimbuzz, and Fring, provide identity-aggregation clients - applications that host all of a user's online identities in a single interface. That's fine for users, but the companies running the networks often finance their operations though embedded advertising, and don't like their eyeballs being nicked. Skype relies on SkypeOut for much of its revenue, so having NimbuzzOut sitting alongside SkypeOut is of no value to Skype at all.

We've been here before: when instant-messaging clients started aggregating each others' networks, a complicated game of cat-and-mouse ensued, with AOL repeatedly changing its protocols to lock out third-party clients and ensure its own advertising remained front and centre.

These days the aggregation is more likely to happen in the cloud - so Nimbuzz hosts all of a single user's various identities on its servers, and the Nimbuzz client uses a single connection. That, combined with the increased complexity of VoIP, makes it much easier for Skype to walk away, and there's little incentive for it to stay.

Not that Skype is adverse to identity aggregation, as the company's recent deal with Facebook demonstrates. But if users are going to access Skype though a different portal, then Skype expects contracts and revenue shares - not rogue clients pushing their own services and advertising on the back of Skype's network.

The only good news for Nimbuzz is that Skype obviously considers the service a threat to its revenues, but whether Nimbuzz has built sufficient market share to survive without Skype is hard to tell. ®

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