May 112011

After the recent news about talks between Skype and Facebook many experts wondered why Skype would sell instead of going public, but still expected these talks to end with an acquisition, so the news about Microsoft acquiring Skype surprised everybody even more. It seemed logical that Facebook executives wanted to have such a great functioning communication tool and they would have seemingly benefited far more from integrating Skype with its soon to be billion users.

Reasons for Acquisition

After the initial surprise I can definitely see at least several reasons why Microsoft would want to have this product in their arsenal:

1. Skype is a great product, widely adopted throughout the world.

2. By flexing its financial muscle Microsoft is showing the world that it still is a big player, tough enough to beat even Facebook. Many will see this sale as a bird in hand that Facebook let fly back into the bush, (a.k.a. “the cloud”), but in case Facebook already has its own technology that can compete with Skype, or if it decides to integrate Google Talk and Google Voice for free, Microsoft can be up for a surprise and tough ways to recover the money spent with this purchase.

3. Provided that Microsoft integrates Skype into its Xbox Live network quickly enough, this could help it kick Sony while it’s down and attract even more users to switch from PS3 and Playstation Network to Xbox 360 and Xbox Live. Your humble servant is one of the affected users who had their PlayStation Network account hacked and information stolen during the current breach that still has PlayStation Network down as a result. That possibly includes my personal and financial info, so I’m getting ready to walk, but more about my recently changed opinion of Sony in another post. In any case, a lot of PS3 users have been inquiring for years about the possibility of using Skype on PS3 and my own post on this site about my frustration with this has a number of visitors every day, not to mention other numerous websites and petitions, including Skype Forums. Using Skype on a gaming console with a big TV instead of a computer screen seems like a good way to do video calls to us. I’ve said this before and I’ll repeat it here again: if Microsoft gets Skype on Xbox before Sony, I am certainly jumping ship and selling PS3, never mind the lack of Blu-ray (the players are much cheaper nowadays). To summarize, I am totally ambivalent to this acquisition and here’s why:

Good feelings about this:

– Microsoft will hopefully integrate Skype with Xbox 360 and if this happens reasonably soon, this is where I ditch Sony and PS3 forever.

– Now Microsoft gets to build Skype into Windows and/or Office

– Microsoft will hopefully fix the inconsistent and inappropriate hack of the Windows close button that Skype has been doing all these years.

Bad feelings about this:

– Skype hasn’t kept up with the explosion of mobile devices and smartphones. They bought Qik possibly because they are behind on the smartphone market while a new competitor Tango works great on all cell phones. Since I haven’t heard anything about any integration of Qik since the purchase was made, now there’s even a bigger integration on the plate for them. This can be painful and long.

– The question is whether Microsoft will try to either buy or destroy Tango, which depends whether they love killing their competition as some say they do.

– I (and my friends and relatives who have PS3) may never be able to use Skype on it for video calls to other PS3 and computer users.

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