Dan Neary, Asia pacific Vice President for Skype, told Sydney-siders today that Skype won’t be developing a client for Microsoft’s much-overdue successor to Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7 (henceforth to be known as WinPho 7). The company will be concentrating instead on iPhone, Symbian and Android, with new offerings currently in development
The company did not explain their decision, but two possibilities exist – either lack of confidence in the market performance of the operating system, or alternatively difficulties in development due to lack of the ability to use native code on the platform, with developers tied to Silverlight and XNA. Issues such as lack of multi-tasking may also affect the utility of VOIP software.
The decision may also have to do with Windows Phone 7’s current OS policies, which don’t currently allow true multitasking. Where iPhone 4.0 and most other platforms will allow VoIP calls in the background, Microsoft’s new OS may only suspend the app and would disconnect the call if a user switches away.
Without the app, Microsoft is likely to have a perceived setback versus virtually every other competitor and may be the least advanced as other kinds of apps, such as Internet radio, will work more efficiently. Windows Phone 7 was conceived as a ‘reboot’ of Microsoft’s OS strategy to create a touchscreen smartphone OS but, aside from first-party apps, is considered in some ways a step back from Windows Mobile.
Skype’s reasons for killing the development and availability of the Windows Mobile version of Skype may be questionable, but the fact is, it’s happened. And it comes at a time when Skype is performing strongly on the iPhone and Symbian platforms, and is soon to make an appearance on a wide range of BlackBerry and Android handsets. Perhaps Windows Phone 7 Series is what Skype needs to make a return? Then again, maybe not. Time will tell.
When a major player in the mobile app ecosystem drops support for a platform, it begs the question: who else will defect? Is this a sign that WinPho 7 is doing something wrong? Or are Skype fools to let this ship sail?