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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.

  • xyzionz
    Here we go again...
  • shovenose
    xyzionzHere we go again...sue-happy country.
    but i live in it so its my problem :)
  • hellwig
    I'm confused, Trillian and Pidgin and the likes are just clients, they rely on the network (Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Skype, etc..) to handle the communication. Therefore, if fring is like those other clients, integrating video conferencing just means allowing users to utilize the networks pre-existing video conferencing, yes? I mean, basically, fring just lets people use Skype video conferencing without the skype client, right? How is this a problem? People are still using Skype. Skype still gets to spy on the conversation or do whatever else it is they do, but the end client application is just fring instead of Skype.

    Maybe this is about in-app ads, and to that I say, who the hell clicks on in-app ads?
  • stratplaya
    Funny how success can screw up a company.

    Look at Apple.

  • Major7up
    I for one dislike the skype interface and would love to see other clients become available. Freedom to choose. I have been considering ending my paid monthly subscription due to several issues and dislike of the interface...
  • exodite
    If Skype could get off their asses and provide fully functional, read desktop-version, clients for the mobile platforms this would be a non-issue as Fring is categorically worse at everything than the official client.

    Well, save being actually available I guess.
  • dreamer77dd
    i want to hear Skype side of the story. "free up more network bandwidth for fring-to-fring video calling" why they doing that? they should free up all bandwidth so everybody can use software instead of throttled or pick and choosing which software should have more. I like both software but it seems like they had problems for awhile and skype had enough of it. so maybe they look like a bully now but they are just doing whats best for their company. why isn't skype threatening to take legal action on other companies for the same feature? It is not clear and all i am hearing is name calling
  • tokenz
    So skype is pissed off because fring is doing to them, what they did to the telecos? WTF. Skype should be shaking their hand. It all travels over Skypes' backbone.
  • feeddagoat
    stratplayaFunny how success can screw up a company.Look at Apple.
    There comes a point that when you climb up that mountain of success that the only direction is back down and since everyone wants to be at the summit, all eyes are fixed on you and everyone notices when you slip or are pushed.
  • NuclearShadow
    Welcome to the backwards world of capitalism.

    Remember kids whenever someone does something better than you cut off all contact and sue them.