Fring and Skype Spar After Fring Introduces Video Calling for iPhone 4 [Updated]

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Last week, fring rolled out its updated App Store application, bringing a number of new features, including support for two-way video calling over 3G and Wi-Fi for iPhone 4 users.

A number of users noted that soon after the update was released, Skype became unavailable on the multi-protocol chat and communication application. After initial indications that Skype support had been temporarily "reduced" in order to deal with network capacity issues, it appeared that fring may have actually blocked Skype from its application. A press release issued today by fring claims, however, that it is actually Skype that has forced fring to withdraw support for Skype's services, ostensibly due to fring's competitive introduction of video calling.

fring, the multi-award winning mobile over internet communication service, today announces that it is being forced to stop its 4 years of Skype interconnectivity following threat of legal action. Skype's anti-competitive ambush comes in the wake of fring's mobile video calling on iPhone 4 launch, which continues to set the standard in rich mobile internet communication.

fring notes that it has expanded its capacity to support the new video calling feature and its previously-existing services such as GoogleTalk, SIP, Twitter and others, but that it has been unable to restore Skype compatibility since attempting to bring it back online following downtime dealing with network demand.

"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." Avi continued, "We believe in communication openness and know that users will continue to vote with their mobile phones - opting for fring's innovation, clarity, honesty and openness".

According to TechCrunch, a Skype spokeperson has denied that it is responsible, noting that the two companies have been debating for some time over whether fring's Skype compatibility complies with usage and other licensing agreements but that fring alone is responsible for the removal of Skype support at this time.

Update: Skype has offered an official response claiming that fring's use of Skype compatibility, especially Friday's withdrawal of Skype support for network issues with no warning, is damaging the Skype brand and disappointing its customers.

The note acknowledges that the two companies have been working to resolve issues over Skype's view that fring has been using Skype in a manner inconsistent with the terms of use and license agreement, but claims that there is "no truth" to fring's claims that Skype blocked the use of its service on fring.

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