Earlier this week, Microsoft nipped ahead of a number of suitors to buy voice-over-internet service Skype for $8.5 billion. That was double or more what competitors like Google and Facebook were offering. Since the purchase (not finalized as of our posting), analysts of the investor and technology stripes have been debating the meaning of the purchase, and what it might mean for Skype’s customers, Microsoft’s gaming systems, and even Apple’s iPhone users.
We wanted to give you some information to help you decide for yourself how the merger might affect your online communications.
Skype was perhaps one of the first social media technologies that saw the opportunities of faster networks and world-wide communications ambitions, yet also struggled to find ways to monetize the service for investors. The company had been up for sale for about a year now (with varying degrees of enthusiasm from its owners). An Initial Public Offering (IPO) of stock was delayed, and some wondered if the telecommunications service might have to take the best offer on the table.
Google was a suitor at one point, though whether to develop Google Voice or kill off Skype is not clear. Turns out Microsoft’s best offer doubled previous bids.
One of the big questions is how this particular acquisition will influence Microsoft’s intense investment in Facebook. The Huffington Post’s Lila Shapiro believes Facebook will sit somewhere between status quo ante and moderate beneficiary. “”For Facebook this is quite a good outcome, because Facebook now doesn’t have to end up dealing with this massive complexity of actually making phone calls sound good,” said analyst Dean Bubley. Facebook, he notes, “doesn’t want (I think) to be a phone company, especially if the value of phone calls is falling.””
Richi Jennings of ComputerWorld.com has his ownabout the event, drawing from investment analysts (glad that Skype finally made a move to bring in cash) and techies (perhaps Skype integration into Windows 7+ phones will finally get someone interested in the platform).
But Microsoft does not have the best record when it comes to buying popular adjacent technologies and keeping them either popular or adjacent (was the first company to make user preferences a sharable commodity that gave retailers access to their interests and web-purchasing habits – until Microsoft bought it in 1996 and could not figure out what to do with the technology – a gaffe that Microsoft has only recently fixed by investing in, but not running, Facebook.).
For nonprofits, Skype’s free computer-to-computer video conferencing is a Godsend, especially as Skype has opened up its code to some developers to give them opportunity to programfor organizations. How these developers and their goodies are handled by Microsoft is an open, and pertinent, question.
Finally, if you have an iPhone or no phone or just do not see the need to sweat these details, enjoy these “10 Reasons Microsoft Bought Skype” from eSarcasm.com. We rather liked No.10: “Ballmer was planning to buy $8.5 billion worth of Pez dispensers but decided, ‘What the [heck], we’ll take Skype instead’.”