Within hours of Google entering the instant-messaging fray, European messaging and online telephony provider Skype has announced plans to let Web sites and online applications integrate Skype messaging services directly into their pages and products.
Although details are still forthcoming, the SkypeWeb and SkypeNet initiatives are part of Skype’s Developer Program; SkypeNet essentially enables developers to embed a "mini Skype" into their applications to provide online messaging capabilities without running the Skype software separately. SkypeWeb is intended to let Skype users to reveal their online status to the Web, and enable them receive messages from essentially any Web page, such as blogs, technical support forums, email messages, or anything else which can handle HTML. Rather than trying to draw traffic to its own site and software, Skype’s initiatives seem an effort to make Skype’s services as ubiquitous as possible across a wide variety of Web sites and software applications.
Skype’s messaging and Internet telephony software is available for free, although the ability to place calls to (or receive calls from) standard phone numbers requires a subscription or per-call charges. Skype also acts as a secure Instant Messaging and file transfer client. Skype claims over 50 million registered users, over 40 percent of whom are in Europe with nearly 30 percent in Asia.