Here's a bit of bad news for those of us who use Skype as an alternative to having a home phone. A major dispute has arisen between the creators of the popular VOIP client and its new owner, Ebay. The auction site bought Skype back in 2005, but the rights to some of Skype's peer-to-peer technology are still owned by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis.
Zennstrom and Friis are the men behind the creation of both Skype and Kazaa, and they're also the founders of the company Joltid Ltd. Joltid wants to pull the P to P software they still own from Skype, which would render the entire client unusable. Ebay has filed suit against them to prevent this, but the ongoing lawsuit is likely to cause them to miss their desired date for the Skype IPO.
Ebay is currently working to build new software to run Skype with in order to avoid the licensing dispute. Unfortunately, this software is very expensive and Ebay admits that it is unlikely to work very well, if at all. They've stated that shutting down Skype is an option of the service's creators won't relent.
The death of Skype would be great news for cell carriers, but bad news for the rest of us. It's an extremely useful service that saves many of us quite a bit of money, as well as being extremely convenient. If Skype dies, it might provide the impetus for Google to integrate their own VOIP system into Google Voice. That's the only silver lining I can see to this nasty situation.