So Microsoft is buying Skype …May 11, 2011 · 2 minute read (archived post)
Yesterday (10 May 2011), Yesterday (10 May 2011), broke that Microsoft is paying $8.5B for Skype (or roughly £5.2B in English). Skype is a rather good, if proprietary, telephony/conferencing app that is multi-platform. It currently works on Windows, of course, but also on Macs, Linux, iThings (iPhones, iPads and iPods), and on Android devices. And there’s the potential problem.
Microsoft isn’t exactly known for it’s love affair with cross-platform technologies. If anything, they are the most anti-cross-platform technology provider there is. Windows and its eco-system is all that Microsoft is interested in; it’s where the bulk (nay all?) of its revenue is derived from.
Buying Skype for $8.5B is an interesting move. It’s roughly double what Google or Facebook were going to pay, if the rumours were true. Thus, Microsoft must believe that it will gain synergies (that horrible management/marketing word …) from integrating Skype technology (and brand?) into Windows in the Desktop, Server, Xbox and Windows Mobile world. It’s got a large fight on its hands with Cisco in the conferencing space and has been looking to make its Unified Communications solution really, really compelling. And maybe by adding Skype to the mix it will be compelling? But $8.5B compelling?
It’s hard to see how Microsoft is going to get its investment back. There could be some useful patents in the mix, and Microsoft is showing that it likes to throw patents around to interfere with markets and use legal tactics as competition rather that, say, just innovating and competing. However, keeping the technology away from Google et al. may also be part of there competitive strategy.
So there’s lots of interesting stuff in there. But for those of us who use Skype on Macs, Linux, Android, or anything that isn’t Windows, yesterday marks a turning point. Previous acquisitions by Microsoft that were cross-platform eventually became Windows only, with the other platforms left swinging in the breeze. What are we going to use instead? SIP, Google Voice, something else? Come on Google, sort out your Google Voice offering for the rest of the world …