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Opening these application programming interfaces (APIs) is a “major step,” said Jeff Pulver, chairman and founder of and creator of the international VON (Voices on the Net) conferences, in a statement.

Earlier this summer, Skype released the API code for its “buddy” list (where Skype users keep their friends’ and associates’ contact information). The move has already spurred a small but growing development community of programmers looking to tie in buddy lists with telecommunications services. (One such service connects Skype’s buddy list to cell phones, so users can call a Skype buddy on their mobile phone.)

Skype’s efforts in opening its code have “raised the bar for everyone,” says Mark Levitt, a vice president of collaborative computing at IDC.

Google also recently released API code for its mapping software. The move has resulted in innovative programs, such as, a mashing of Craigslist’s housing listings and Google map information – which was created by a programmer with no affiliation to either organization.

With Google now officially in the world of voice communications via its Talk product, and Skype furthering its development efforts with API releases, the two company’s strategies are dovetailing nicely.

Here’s a purely speculative scenario: Google recently announced that it will be conducting a secondary offering of stock expected to net the firm an additional $4 billion in capital. Meanwhile, it is rumored that Skype was almost sold to News Corp. for $3 billion. So what if Google bought Skype? It’d be a mega-merger, of course, with enormous implications for instant messaging and communications. And it would also be an announcement that might justify hyped-up headlines.

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