For many consumers and even handset manufacturers, Windows Mobile has become an afterthought. Has it become the same for developers, as well? Skype, at least, seems to think so.
Of course, Skype didn't really put it that way, but the implication in there. As of now, users can no longer download Skype Lite or Skype clients for Windows Mobile phones. Skype has put up an FAQ
addressing the issue. They say:
We’ve chosen to withdraw Skype Lite and Skype for Windows phones because we want to offer our new customers an improved mobile experience – much like the version that has proved so popular on the iPhone, and which is now available on Symbian phones. Our focus is on providing a rich user experience that allows you to enjoy free Skype-to-Skype and low cost calls as easily on the move as you do at your desktop.
We felt that Skype Lite and Skype for Windows phones were not offering the best possible Skype experience.
Skype said that Skype Lite will continue to work through 2010. They did not elaborate on future plans.
Although it's true that newer smartphone platforms such as the iPhone and Android offer superior experiences, its interesting that Skype is also talking about Symbian, an older platform, offering a superior experience to WinMo, particularly when they still don't have an Android release.
Frankly, while Windows Mobile wasn't the same level of experience as the other OSes, it did work. Perhaps the driver here is the drop in Windows Mobile market share, which seems to be on a decidedly consistent downward trend.
On the other hand, perhaps it's more about the proliferation of differences between handsets and earphone support, at least on WM devices. Answering a comment by a user named Mat on this thread, Peter Parkes of Skype said
Hey there – Mat’s comment above pretty much nails it. It’s been very difficult for us to make the experience consistent across a wide range of Windows devices. However, we have a partnership in place with China Unicom to deliver a new beta version to their WM handsets – where we can work with mobile operators, we’ll be able to deliver a Skype experience on the current WM platform which lives up to expectations.
Please give me a shout if you have any further questions – I’ll be more than happy to answer them.
That said, it seems if Skype can work something out with carriers / OEMs, WM may not be dead. It's unclear if Skype will return to Windows phones en masse when WM7 ... oops, Windows Phone 7 Series ... is released.