COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES Skype and Fring have gotten into a handbags at dawn spat after Fring claimed that it was forced to disconnect from Skype's network.
Fring recently hit the headlines as it announced the ability to make voice calls over 3G networks on its Iphone 4 application. Previously, Fring had been able to serve as an aggregator of voice over IP (VoIP) networks by connecting to the proprietary protocols controlled by Skype as well as Google Talk and other networks that use the Internet open standard session initiation protocol (SIP).
However, now it seems that Skype doesn't want Fring to connect to its network and has issued legal threats to Fring that have left Fring CEO Avi Shechter furious.
Labelling Skype's move as an "anti-competitive ambush" and an attempt to "muzzle competition", Shechter apologised to his users who are affected by the "impact of Skype's bullying".
In a separate blog post, Fring called Skype's actions "cowardly" and reiterated its claim that the privately held, Luxembourg based VoIP, chat and video communications firm was trying to muzzle the competition. That post managed to get the attention of Skype, which retorted by labelling Fring's claims as "untrue".
According to Skype's legal VP Robert Miller, the issue isn't with competition but rather how Fring was using Skype's API, which it claims was being used "in a way it wasn't designed" and was in breach of various usage and licensing agreements. This alleged misuse, Skype claims, was "increasingly damaging our brand and reputation with our customers."
Skype's Miller poo-poo'd Shechter's claims that Fring was pushed out by saying, "There is no truth to Fring's claims that Skype has blocked it. Fring made the decision to remove Skype functionality on its own." This is in stark contrast to Shechter, who says that his company would be "happy to reconnect with Skype once Skype reverses their decision."
Fring will be hoping to settle its very public spat with Skype soon, we reckon, but that's not to say it will be successful. No matter how this dispute eventually gets settled, if ever, the current disruption alone is likely to see many Fring users look for alternative software that can connect to the world's largest VoIP network. µ