Every great software vendor has a network of developers who add value to their core product suite by making add-on programs. Microsoft exemplifies this best with the thousands of programs made by independent developers made for Windows operating systems and Office that turned Windows into a multi-billion dollar industry.
Intuit’s Intuit Developer Network which sells dozens of add-on products by independent developers is another great example.
Skype, makers of a very popular voice-over-the-Internet telephony service (free and fee based for businesses) is also building a developer channel – so far over 1,000 developers have signed on.
But Cnet writes Skype is beginning to roll out its own premium services, and it might face competition from similar products seeded by its developer program. For example, Skype is testing a voice mail system that it wants to sell in the future. Yet there are already at least a half-dozen free Skype voice mail add-ons available for download on the Net.
I’m not sure what the solution will be for Skype, for as you consider building a developer channel for your software, make sure you don’t cannibalize your sales.