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The Washington Post reports this morning that Skype is in talks to acquire Gizmo, founder Michael Robertson's effort to create a similar service to Skype, but one based entirely on open standards such as SIP and XMPP.Skype's efforts to acquire Gizmo are entirely driven by its need to protect itself from a patent infringement action led by its founders, now part of JoltID. JoltID claims it owns the core technology behind Skype's peer-to-peer service. Should Skype lose the suit, it will either have to pay a large royalty to JoltID, or find an alternative technology (making a Gizmo acquistion "Plan B" as Om Malik notes.

A Skype acquisition of Gizmo raises some interesting questions. Gizmo relies on Jabber for its services, Jabber was recently acquired by Cisco, meaning that if Skype acquires Gizmo, and implements Gizmo's technology to replace its current architecture, Jabber will sit at the heart of the Skype network.

What makes this story more compelling is Skype's new aggressiveness in going after the business market via its Skype for SIP platform. Skype is positioning Skype for SIP as a way for enterprises to bypass the PSTN and instead use Skype's network to carry long distance calls. In recent weeks, Skype has annnounced that it has certified both ShoreTel's VOIP system, as well as Cisco's own UC 500 SMB product to peer with the Skype network via Skype for SIP. Not only does this effort compete directly with SIP trunking services offered by a growing number of service providers, but Skype for SIP connectivity potentially enables users of certified phone systems to place or receive calls directly to/from Skype clients. Skype may finally be on the verge of building the alternative to the PSTN that early proponents of ENUM thought might happen with SIP.

Skype isn't stopping at voice though. LifeSize last week introduced Passport, a high-definition desktop/small room system that supports peering with Skype for video conferencing.

So what happens to all these new peering services if Skype acquires Gizmo and has to spend the next year or so transitioning its tens of millions of users over to an entirely new architecture? How much flexibility will it have to continue to develop new partnerships that will require interoperability with technology owned by Cisco? And, lurking in the back of all of this is the financial implications of the pending JoltID judgment. All of these developments taken together mean that this is one story that bears watching over the next several months.