Skip to main content

Skype Blocks, Threatens to Sue Fring

Those of us who use every instant message service under the sun depend on clients like fring, Trillian, Pidgin and a few others to keep all contacts under one roof. Although fring isn't the most attractive or the most organized IM client available, its latest update became somewhat of a holy grail for iPhone 4 owners, allowing them to visually communicate in unrestricted 2-way video calling over the 3G Internet and Wi-Fi--Apple's native FaceTime only works over a Wi-Fi connection.

Although fring and Skype have shared a modest relationship over the last four years, the latter company apparently saw this new update as a threat, as Skype also provides free video calls and video conferencing. At first fring was forced to temporarily reduce its support to Skype due to the sudden surge of fring-based video calling--the temporary move was to free up more network bandwidth for fring-to-fring video calling. But then Skype decided to get nasty, supposedly blocking Fring's access and threatening legal action against the company.

"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."

In an official Fring blog, the company extended its seemingly bitter attitude by calling Skype "cowards" for being afraid to open mobile communication. When questioned about the possible lawsuit against fring, a Skype representative said that it was fring who chose to block interconnectivity and denied any responsibility. In turn, fring retaliated by saying that Skype demanded that access not be restored.

But apparently hardship had fallen between the two companies long before fring integrated video calling. According to the Skype spokesperson, ongoing discussions about fring operating in accordance with Skype's terms of use and license agreements had eventually tuned into a debate. Looks like the whole video calling feature was just icing on the cake.

Stay tuned as the drama unfolds.