It's been tempting for media and analysts to look at Microsoft's $8.5 billion acquisition of VOIP provider Skype as an assault on the Google Voice cloud calling service.
Google Voice has perhaps a few million users, while Microsoft would virtually own the VOIP market, as Skype has some 700 million worldwide users. It is believed that between 150 million and 170 million people actively use the PC-to-PC calling service.
However, some analysts believe Skype's peer-to-peer architecture limits its scalability going forward.
With Skype, Microsoft essentially paid a ton of money for a company that doesn't make a whole lot of money. Gleacher & Co. analyst Yun Kim said only about 8.8 million of Skype's users actually pay for the service.
So what has Microsoft purchased Skype for? To take a page out of Google's playbook. Google is gradually layering Google Voice throughout its Web services. The company added Google Voice to Gmail last summer.
One day, you might well expect to do a search on Google.com and see links to click-to-call businesses with Google Voice. The mechanism already exists in Google's click-to-call ads, though users are using their mobile phones to make those connections.
Microsoft shows an inclination to do the same cross-platform integration with Skype, pledging to weave Skype throughout products.
An obvious starting point is augmenting Microsoft Lync unified communications for businesses with Skype, but other services such as Live Meeting, Outlook, Bing, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox could all benefit from Skype's communications properties.
If Microsoft successfully stitches Skype into Outlook or Lync, it might provide a more lucrative suite than Google Apps. Microsoft might also integrate Skype capabilities into Bing, potentially drawing more users to its search engine.