Six years after launch, Skype has quietly announced it will cease support for its TV app.
Panasonic was among the first companies to introduce a version of Skype to its smart TV lineup back in 2010, and a myriad of manufacturers have followed since. So what’s changed in the intermittent years that would force the Microsoft subsidiary to pull the plug on its TV app? Well, in a word, smartphones.
Recent figures suggest that smartphone sales have risen from less than 300 million in 2010 to almost 1.5 billion in 2015. The majority of Americans today now use smartphones, but perhaps more than the actual number of phones is the amount of time mobile phones consume in our everyday lives — earlier this year Facebook revealed that more than half of its billion-plus user-base only ever access the service through a mobile phone. And this is a trend we’ve been seeing for a number of years, with traditional computer use increasingly usurped by the smartphones that have infiltrated every facet of our lives.
“Since 2010, Skype has delivered a great calling experience in the living room in partnership with several TV manufacturers,” the announcement explained. “But over the years, users have changed the way they use Skype, with the majority accessing it from a mobile device — including when in the living room. We want to make sure we prioritize delivering the best possible experience to the platforms our users are asking for, which is why we’ve decided to focus our efforts in other areas while supporting key functionality on Skype for TV for as long as possible.”
In other words, even though people do still use TVs in their living rooms, and even though they may have Skype installed on a newfangled smart TV, people still prefer to use the app that lives in their pocket.
Skype will continue to support its TV app until June 2016, after which users will be at the mercy of manufacturers as to whether the app is retained on TV sets. But even if it is, the app will likely grow increasingly buggy over time and become unreliable.
“Skype partners with TV manufacturers to create a bespoke Skype on TV app, which the manufacturers make available only from their Smart TV app store — Skype on TV is not available to download from the Skype website,” a Skype spokesperson told VentureBeat. “As a result, all Skype on TV customers are managed and notified by the TV partners themselves.”