Microsoft-Skype: the end for Mac and iPhone users?

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By Richi Jennings. May 11, 2011.

Is this the end of Skype for Mac? For iPhone? For Android? Now that Microsoft (MSFT) is buying Skype Global for $8.5 billion, what does it mean for non-Windows platforms -- do they have a future? In IT Blogwatch, bloggers dissect the big news.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Did you miss me? Not to mention royal proof that Osama bin Laden is dead...

Erick Schonfeld hears what Steve Ballmer and Tony Bates have to say:

Ballmer did a good job couching the deal in terms of Microsoft’s mission to bring people closer together ... and make their lives better. ... From Skype’s point of view, the Microsoft deal could make it even more ubiquitous.


The product and brand will continue to exist, and Ballmer promised to “continue to support non-Microsoft devices.” ... Skype is being positioned as sitting at the nexus of mobile, social, and voice.


Ballmer confirms ... [Microsoft] was really bidding against the upcoming IPO and figured it was cheaper to buy it now. ... “From our perspective it was better if we owned this company.”  

  Julie Bort sees the openness angle:

Skype is already the glue between competing UC platforms. ... Ballmer promised that Skype support for non-Microsoft platforms ... will continue. These weren't empty words. One of the things Microsoft gets ... [is] the instant ability to reach Skype's 170 million users.


Skype and Avaya signed an agreement to integrate their wares last fall. The Microsoft purchase shouldn't shake up the Avaya piece. ... Avaya's SMB product, Business Communications Manager (Linux based, by the way) ... has already integrated Microsoft technologies, including Outlook ... alongside Skype for click-to-call, click-to-IM and click to e-mail. ... Cisco will have to come to Microsoft if it wants to get fully integrated with the Skype user base now.


Microsoft has been trying to sell this idea that Kinect can become the ... home videoconferencing option (probably much to Cisco's chagrin). ... Maybe enterprises will go so far as to buy Xbox Kinect for those that need home videoconferencing.  

Yes, Steve Ballmer is enjoying his retail therapy:

[It] underscores who we are as a company. ... When we look into the world and see opportunities ... we’ll drive toward them and keep pushing. Sometimes we’ll build ourselves. ... Sometimes we’ll partner or form an alliance to seize the moment. ... And other times we’ll make an acquisition ... that plays to both company’s strengths and opens new opportunities not available otherwise.  

Kara Swisher looks to the investors:

Marc Andreessen ... was one of [Skype’s] key investors and his venture firm, Andreessen Horowitz, had invested $65 million in it in 2009 at a $2.75 billion valuation. ... When the massive all-cash deal was tendered ... the offer was too good to pass by for its private equity investor, Silver Lake Partners.  

And Ben Horowitz adds his perspective:

With a company as complex as Skype, investors draw different conclusions about the same facts. ... We had a radically higher opinion of Skype’s founders and employees than the doubters and naysayers.


Many speculated that ... Skype’s founders, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis ... would use their claim to shut down Skype and leave investors with nothing. ... We specifically thought that [they] wanted Skype to be a huge success. ... As a result, we did not think the doomsday scenario ... was an actual possibility. ... We couldn’t have been more right.  

  Meanwhile, Preston Gralla hypothesizes about Ballmer's motivations:

The most obvious reason Microsoft bought Skype is for enterprise collaboration. Microsoft's Lync ... links computers to a PBX and offers VoIP calling. ... The purchase of Skype will help Microsoft make big gains here, and fend off Google's push into the market, and Apple's. ... If Google had bought Skype, it would have been disastrous for Microsoft.


[It] may help Microsoft boost Windows Phone 7. Deep Skype integration into the operating system ... may well give Windows Phone 7 capabilities than neither Android nor iOS can match.  

  And Dan Tynan snarks it up:

It’s been ages since Microsoft bought a product that worked fine for millions of users and totally ran it into the ground. It’ll be like the 1990?s all over again.


Nobody can watch that "use a Windows Phone and you’ll get more sex" commercial with a straight face. At least Skype users actually get some. ... "It’s time for a phone to save us from our phones," and Windows Phone 7 sure as **** isn’t it.  


And Finally...

Obama's gift to the royal couple

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's also the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of Computerworld, plus The Long View. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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