The twittering began a while ago, then came the announcement that an announcement would come, and now...it is announced.
Microsoft will acquire Skype for $8.5 Billion in cash.
Good for Microsoft to get access to the Skype user community with hundreds of millions of loyalists. Good for Skype to have the 800 lb. gorilla in software as its partner to provide marketing channels and deep pockets.
A client asked for our thoughts. Here are what come to mind first:
1) Culture Clash --
- Skype is a peer to peer product developed to help people go around the price-gouging of telecom monopolies via internet and gave its service away for free, for years and still does
- Microsoft develops something for everyone, enterprise wide, is the de facto standard for many of its markets and has for years been the subject of claims that it is "The Great Satan" or "Evil Empire" in the software world for abusing its market power and ruthless commitment to enhancing its own profits
2) Free -- Many people use Skype because it is free and you can access millions of friends, family, etc. Does Microsoft intend to keep it free?
3) Usability -- Skype is simple, easy to get started with and has lots of nice features. Cross your fingers that Skype's usability influences Microsoft's development path and not the other way around.
4) Control -- Skype does not have a feature-rich IT control suite, user permissions, rights, bandwidth constraints, domains, profiles, etc. Expect Microsoft to layer a lot of that functionality in. Will that make Skype less attractive to users even as it becomes more palatable to IT and Network managers?
5) Security -- Skype has some significant, and often-discussed security vulnerabilities as well as the basic challenge of peer-to-peer architecture. Add Skype (a big target) to Microsoft (the biggest target there is) and you can expect a series of security attacks while newly integrated products are rolled out by Microsoft. Hopefully no one gets hurt.
6) Quality -- Neither Skype nor Microsoft has a high quality video communication and collaboration solution. So what changes that will be good from the users perspective?
7) Feature Overlap -- Many of Skype's features overlap with Microsoft Lync, Kinect and other tools. Do they merge, remain parallel, or something in-between?
8) Reality -- Press releases are great at talking about the opportunities. The hard part is knitting together the gaps in technology, philosophy, marketing, pricing, packaging, distribution, support...
Will they be successful ? Only time will tell. What do you think?