Cisco has appealed the European Commission's approval of Microsoft's Skype acquisition, asking for new conditions concerning interoperability.
Cisco Systems will appeal
the European Commissions approval of Microsofts Skype acquisition,
potentially kicking off a messy legal battle between tech behemoths.
We respect the European Commission, and value Microsoft as
a customer, supplier, partner, and competitor, Marthin De Beer, senior vice
president of Ciscos Video and Collaboration Group, wrote in a Feb. 15 posting
on the companys corporate
. Cisco does not oppose the merger, but believes the European
Commission should have placed conditions that would ensure greater
standards-based interoperability, to avoid any one company from being able to
seek to control the future of video communications.
In other words, Cisco wants interoperability between its
products and those of the combined Microsoft-Skype entity, particularly when it
comes to the enterprise and small and midsized
businesses (SMBs): Microsofts plans
to integrate Skype exclusively with its Lync Enterprise Communications Platform
could lock-in businesses who want to reach Skypes 700 million account holders
to a Microsoft-only platform.
The European Commission asks as an antitrust regulator and
enforcer, with significant power within the European
Union. Microsoft has locked horns with it before over the presence of Internet
Explorer on Windows 7
Microsoft formally closed its $8.5 billion Skype acquisition
in October, making the communications company a division within its
already-sprawling corporate structure. Former Skype CEO Tony Bates, now
president of Microsofts Skype unit, reports directly to Microsoft CEO Steve
Microsoft had previously indicated that it would continue to
support Skype on non-Microsoft client platforms. Before Cisco stepped in, the
acquisition had already placed Microsoft on a collision course with Google and
its own voice over IP (VOIP) services. In May 2010, Google purchased Global
IP Solutions, or GIPS, which makes software for processing high-definition
audio and video over the Web, for $68.2 million. A few months later, the
search-engine giant began offering its Gmail customers the ability to make
phone calls through that service.
By purchasing Skype, Microsoft at the very least removed the
company as a potential acquisition target for Google. And integrated with
mobile Microsoft offerings like Windows Phone 7, Skype could end up also
challenging Apple, which offers video conferencing through its FaceTime service
Skypes services could certainly pump up Microsofts bottom
line. Local phone numbers, three-way video conferencing, business
administration, and making calls to real phone numbers are all things that
people will pay for, Forrester analyst Ted Schadler wrote in a
May 2011 posting
on his corporate blog, soon after the deal was announced.
But now, it seems as if Cisco wants its say in Microsofts
strategy going forward.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter