Google/Skype: The Internet's Hottest Duo

By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2006-05-03 Print this article Print

In March, Google researchers published the first intensive study of Skype user habits.

In addition to its findings, what's interesting about the study is how much Skype has connected with Google. In the business world, especially for Internet-based firms, the kind of customer info Google was allowed to view isn't usually given up without a court fight, or some mutual interest.

There are other Internet "It couples." Yahoo and Microsoft are one: The Wall Street Journal reports that the companies have in the past held talks about a merger of sorts in order to fight their mutual chief nemesis, Google.

And, to a lesser degree, there's the pairing of Google and Time Warner's America Online, which Google now owns a 5 percent stake in.

Skype/Google, or in these times when high-profile couples get a single name, Skoogle, is also high on the "It couple" A list.

These companies' customers form two giant communities of Internet users that are only getting larger. So the pair's potential in tandem is rather jaw-dropping.

Some things they could do? How about linking each firms' respective Internet phone customers so they can call each other? Or combining Google's search engine with Skype's phone or text chat features? There have been suggestions as to how Skype could use Google's network of thousands of data centers to deliver its VOIP (voice-over-IP) features. That's just for starters, when it comes to the question of what could come from the partnership.

The two sure act like an "It" couple. Every now and then, these two powerful Net titans make some grand public appearance, which in turn revs up the blogssip machinery about things to come.

A month before the study, the companies both participated in a $21.7 million round of funding for FON, which seeks to build a volunteer army of Wi-Fi networks around the world. There are 14 screens' worth of Google search results elaborating on what that all means.

Google was also rumored to be a suitor for Skype, before the VOIP company was snatched up by eBay in September for $2.6 billion.

Google and Skype are also in the same boat when it comes to Net neutrality: When taking the big picture into context, Google and Skype are flies on the windshield of the Internet's true titans, the companies that own the pipes through which the Internet is delivered. And they want to start charging Skype, Google and other firms whose features clog their networks.

So there's strength in numbers. |

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