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Skype, Fring throw punches over iPhone hang up

A flurry of pointing fingers between Skype and Fring outline a service interruption for iPhone 4 users trying to make two-way video calls via Fring.

Fring versus Skype

Fring and Skype, sometimes-rivals in the VoIP mobile space, are spitting out harsh words in what's turning into an ugly public relations play.

In a news release sent to CNET on Monday, Fring accuses Skype of being "afraid of open mobile communication" after Skype brought legal action against Fring, which has traditionally included Skype in its IM and VoIP calling app.

In its news release, Fring went on to accuse Skype of "muzzl[ing] competition, even at the expense of its own users," and in a strongly worded blog post, Fring's CEO, Avi Shechter, refers to Skype's legal action as an "ambush."

Skype has fought back on its blog, issuing a statement that called Fring's "mis-use" of its software "increasingly damaging our brand and reputation with our customers."

The fall out came after Fring temporarily withdrew Skype as an add-on in its latest iPhone update, which it specifically optimized to compete against the FaceTime video chat app Apple built into the iPhone 4 (note: the add-on was operational when we conducted our hands-on test.)

Why would Fring pull support for the Skype add-on, its main competitive weapon against Apple? According to an earlier Fring blog post, Fring's inability to handle its amplified load to its network and give preference to Fring-to-Fring calls, the company pulled support for Skype.

However, as Skype wrote in its blog post, Fring's "misuse" of Skype violates Skype's API Terms of Use and license agreements.

It seems to us that Skupe has long been Fring's lynchpin in video calls, and enough Skype users complaining that Skype wasn't working on Fring drove the company to act.

Update, 3:15 p.m. PDT:: The article was updated to correct the statement that Fring's withdrawal of Skype support violated Skype's license agreement and API terms of use.