Skype Launches Third-Party App Directory

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Skype appears to have launched a new app directory in the cloud, allowing users to access all the third-party apps for both consumers and businesses built on top of Skype’s API.

The site is fairly simple in functionality for now, but Skype has sorted both consumer apps and business into groups by genre (call recording, video, desktop sharing etc.), and featured the top downloaded free and paid apps, top rated apps and the newest apps across the board and by genre. For example, Skype recording app VodBurner is the most downloaded app across all categories.

For each app, Skype provides a landing page that gives more information about the application, release date, star rating and comments, features, requirements, screenshots and more. You can choose to download the app, and Skype will take you to the developer’s landing page. Skype users can also search for apps by cost, language, keywords, OS and more.

Ash Valeski, Skype’s head of global web stores, says that the VoIP company is putting a lot of emphasis on its SkypeKit next generation SDK, and wanted to put together a proper distribution channel for developers who are building off the platform. He notes that this is the soft-launch of the directory and many more features will be added in the future. At launch, Skype has 23 apps featured as soft-launch partners.

Valeski says that in the future it would make sense to allow users to purchase apps using Skype Credits and actually integrate an iTunes-like e-commerce platform where Skype is actually selling the apps. Currently, the directory passes visitors to the developer sites for purchase of apps.

As VodBurner CEO and founder Jeremy Hague tells us, giving Skype users the ability to rate apps, comment about apps, is totally new to Skype and will really help app developers get their apps out to the massive Skype community…having a directory makes live easier for us. He says until now there hasn’t really been a great way to publicize third-party apps.

Another helpful feature of the directory is that Skype is ‘surfacing’ the apps within the Skype client. So in the newest version of Skype for Windows, you can access the app directory under Tools. The directory will be added to the Mac client in the future. And developers can also manage their own listings.

It’s good to see Skype providing features like an app directory so third-party developers can showcase their apps that make Skype better. Skype hasn’t had the best history with developers in the past, but this seems to be a step forward. Perhaps the influence of soon-to-be parent company Microsoft is helping steer things in a developer-friendly direction.