Well this just sounds downright petty. Fring was long being heralded as the video-chatting tool of choice for many new devices to launch in recent weeks with a front-facing camera (including the Samsung Galaxy S, the HTC EVO 4G, and the iPhone 4). Their service allowed you to chat not only with other Fring users, but with your friends on Skype as well. The solution would quickly make front-facing cameras a very desirable addition to the phones of Skype users everywhere, but Fring wasn’t technically ready to handle all that traffic.
They had to temporarily block their users from using Fring to call their friends using Skype while they work to improve performance, but Skype disallowed the reversal of that procedure – it no longer works. Fring CEO Avi Shechter clearly wasn’t happy with their decision, stating:
“We are disappointed that Skype, who once championed the cause of openness, is now attempting to muzzle competition, even to the detriment of its own users” said Avi Shechter, fring’s Co-Founder and CEO “We apologize to our users for the impact of Skype’s bullying and we will be happy to reconnect with Skype once Skype reverses their decision.” Avi continued, “We believe in communication openness and know that users will continue to vote with their mobile phones – opting for fring’s innovation, clarity, honesty and openness”.
Skype – who partnered with Verizon to provide their subscribers with exclusive access to the popular VoIP client – has already expressed interest in bringing video to their mobile client before the end of the year. In other parts of the world, that won’t be a problem, but Verizon doesn’t have a device with a front-facing camera yet to take advantage of that. Anything can change before the year closes, of course, but Verizon’s 5GB data cap doesn’t provide much hope for what’s definitely a data-intensive service (that was mirrored when they opted to go with a version of the Samsung Galaxy S that excludes a front-facing camera, unlike Sprint who will offer the Epic 4G under a “true” unlimited data plan as they currently do the HTC EVO 4G).
Does this break the deal for anyone that often used Skype to chat with their friends while on the go?
[Update]: Looks like we have ourselves a bit of a finger pointing game going on here. Originally, Fring updated the masses on the reason they disabled Skype access in their Android and iPhone apps: the traffic became much too difficult for them to handle and they wanted to improve performance before re-introducing connectivity. They reportedly attempted to bring the service back online for testing, but was denied access by way of Skype.
It looks like one of these sides (or both, even) isn’t giving us the full story. Skype chimed in with us to update us on the matter, saying that Fring decided to remove Skype functionality and that Skype had no part in blocking Fring at all.
We’re back at square one, no? Skype couldn’t reach a resolution with Fring after discussing their terms in regards to API usage. That’s sensible, but why would Fring outright lie, calling Skype “cowards” and accusing them of stifling competition, openness, and innovation? That’s a question one of these sides will have to answer as we’re all just spectators in what has turned out to be quite the interesting bicker fest, and we’ll be right here to bring you guys the latest in what’s surely looking to turn into one big mess of legal battles.