Despite early suggestions that it was a blunder, Microsoft's acquisition of Skype may be one of the best moves the company could have made, provided they don't screw it up.
stunning announcement that it was acquiring
Skype for about $8.5 billion was initially derided by some as being a
blunder. I suppose it might seem that way if you only look at Skype in its
current form. But that's not really relevant to Microsoft's long-term plans.
about what you get when you integrate Skype with Microsoft's existing
platforms. Assuming that Microsoft continues to support the breadth of computer
operating systems and mobile devices that Skype currently supports, you
suddenly have a global, peer-to-peer communications network unlike any other.
If Microsoft is able to integrate Skype with its full range of products from
its video games to Microsoft Office, you suddenly have something that neither
Apple nor Google can match.
picture is something like this. Skype is integrated into Microsoft Lync, which
is the new corporate messaging system that replaces Microsoft Communicator.
This gives Lync the ability to do video chats, instant messaging and voice
over 100 million Skype users in addition to all of the Lync users out
there. While Lync provides other capabilities such as desktop sharing and multiparty
conferencing, along with PBX integration, the reach provided by Skype is
something that nobody else can do.
think about the potential integration with Windows Live Messenger, and you
suddenly expand Messenger's reach to really vast numbers of people. And when
you consider that most of those Skype Mobile users aren't currently using
Microsoft's platform, then suddenly there's an entr??Â«e into mobile
communications that Microsoft couldn't get any other way. While Skype will be
integrated with Windows Phone 7, it's already available on Android, iOS,
BlackBerry and Symbian devices globally. The only real restriction is that some
carriers don't promote the use of Skype. On the other hand, some, such as
Verizon Wireless, do.
meanwhile, gets something too. Skype users will find themselves able to connect
to millions of people who were previously unavailable. Depending on how
Microsoft decides to integrate Skype, those Skype users on Linux computers will
find that they can have video chats with a much broader variety of Windows
users. Now it's only Windows users who download and install the Skype client.
Soon it could be everyone.
Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.
He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.