Skype Reaching Out to Developers

The fourth annual eBay Developers Conference opened today in Boston, and Skype is encouraging developers to attend and become part of its Skype Extras program. The conference runs through Wednesday.

The company built Skype Extras up to bring some direction and momentum to the efforts of independent apps developers who are making use of the program’s APIs to create applications that extend and enhance the VoIP service. Accessible through the latest version of the softphone client (Tools/Do More/Get Extras), Extras Manager showcases and facilitates the downloading of more than 50 Extras, in some 10 categories.

The basic idea is that Skype selects and certifies the interoperability of the best add-ons submitted, thus enriching the Skype experience, and developers get a far more efficient conduit through which to distribute their work. spoke with Paul Amery, director of the Skype Developer Program, who pointed out that, with the creation of Skype Extras, developers are now viewing Skype as a new pipeline for distributing their applications.

“The message I’ve been sharing with them recently is that Skype is a great product, but we’ve also got a great platform,” he said. “There’s a very rapid reach to market for them to bring their applications and services and distribute out to our 200 million users.”

“About a year ago, we had simply an online gallery where developers could post their applications,” Amery explained. “It was reasonably successful; we got around 25,000 downloads a month.

“Then we realized what developers really needed was a way to get the applications directly in front of a user rather than trying to find it on some website, so they could monitize. Since we put Extras Manager in Skype 3.2, downloads have gone from about 25,000 per to 3 to 4 million per month,” he said. “Crazy Talk – our most popular Extra, which is an animated avatar that lip-synchs your Skype conversation – has gone from about 1,000 downloads a month to about 1 million downloads a month.”

As many Extras have both a free basic version and more advanced, fee-based versions, the arrangement multiplies revenue potential for developers many times over.

Extras categories span the range from Business (with PBX workalikes, call recording, forwarding, and the like) to Personalization (ringtones, mood generators, avatars), to Productivity (language translators, hotspot finders, etc.) to Games.

Anyway, if you’re a developer and you’re in the Boston area, you still have two days to make it to the conference.

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