Where is Microsoft taking Skype?
The news that Microsoft has taken over Skype has come as quite a big shock to those of us watching the VoIP industry. We had heard rumors that Google and perhaps Facebook would be the ones to scoop it up, but Microsoft? So far, the software behemoth hasn't shown any interest in getting into VoIP, but the acquisition of the quintessential VoIP app shows that they're very serious about it. So serious in fact, that they paid almost double of what Skype was valued at - a whopping $8.5 billion. Shareholders and investors are already raising questions about the logic of such a large sum and Microsoft's share price actually went down by about 1%.
Nevertheless now that Microsoft has Skype on their hands, what are they going to do with it? It has interesting implications for the availability of Skype on platforms other than Windows. Microsoft has diversified significantly from its desktop days and it could be using Skype to help popularize its products in mobile and gaming. So let's take a look at what it could mean for VoIP users.
Skype on Windows
So far, one of the strongest aspects of an Android phone was its seamless integration with Google voice. Using GV, users could make VoIP calls and we've even seen indications that Google will enable SIP to SIP direct calls over the Internet for free. So far, the Windows mobile platform had nothing similar to offer. The acquisition of Skype changes all of that and we can now expect to see Skype as deeply integrated into Windows mobile phones as GV is with Android phones. Which leaves unanswered the question about what Apple will do now...
Another platform which Skype could find a place on is the Xbox systems. As of now, the Xbox live network allows gamers to interact with each other in a limited way. But with Skype in their hands, Microsoft could unify their communication services under a single umbrella and a single account. In fact, users could possibly sign on no Xbox using their Skype IDs instead - and this will really expand the base of Xbox.
Of course, we can also now expect to see Skype deeply integrated with Windows. Some users have the right to be worried about the fate of Skype on competing systems such as Linux and Apple - it's unlikely that Microsoft would continue development for platforms which it directly competes against. We'll just have to wait and see what value Microsoft is going to get for its ~$8 billion purchase.