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According to one report, peer-to-peer VoIP provider Skype is the largest carrier of international voice calls. But the company think it's just getting started as the company looks to expand its large footprint by turning "every connected device" into a communications device that can run Skype.
How will it to that? Easy: make it possible for Skype to find its way into all of the devices that were once 'offline' but that are now being connected to the internet.
Yesterday, Skype officially released the SkypeKit SDK. It's a collection of tools and APIs targeted at consumer electronics device manufacturers and desktop application developers to build Skype-powered voice and video calls into just about any device:
Think of SkypeKit as a "headless" version of Skype – that is, a Skype client with no user interface that runs invisibly, not only on PCs, but also TVs, notebooks, and other connected devices. Developers communicate with SkypeKit through the SkypeKit API, surfacing Skype calls through their own applications.
Needless to say, the possibilities are endless. Television manufacturers could build a Skype video conferencing solution into the next generation of internet-enabled television sets, automakers already looking to build 'connected' cars could integrate Skype for in-car VoIP calling (hands-free of course), and so on and so forth.
Given its market position, Skype will clearly have an edge in wooing manufacturers and developers. But the competition between tech companies to make sure that their applications and platforms make their way to the next generation of consumer electronics products is already heating up. While Google TV, for instance, may not be a direct competitor to SkypeKit, it highlights the fact that more and more prominent tech companies are pushing beyond the desktop and traditional mobile markets.
There's obviously room for a lot of innovation here, and more than a few 'winners'. The challenge, however, for manufacturers, is taking all of these very cool offerings and making sure that they're integrated into their products in ways that won't confuse consumers. After all, as these offerings explode, so too will the applications that can be built upon them. Making sure all of those applications offer rich, consistent user experiences will be a tall order.
The good news for Skype is that its proposition is so simple: every device can become a communications device. Contrast that with Google. Despite the promise of Google TV, which is immense, the company still has to work to explain what Google TV is about.
If Skype can get the SkypeKit SDK into the hands of the right manufacturers, Skype could very well be the first application that lures mainstream consumers to internet-enabled televisions, cars, etc. And if Skype can lure enough of them, world domination might not be out of the question.
Photo credit: Robert Sanzalone via Flickr.