According to a report this evening out of Brussels at Financial Times’ FT.com, reporter Alex Barker states that Microsoft is to win approval of its acquisition of Skype with no conditions. No timing for an official announcement was given.
Basically the approval ignored “legacy” bundling complaints and Microsoft won its argument that the market has changed sufficiently where those old arguments no longer apply especially in consideration of Skype’s support for multiple platforms. (Maybe they also earned something by the market failure of their browserless Windows ruling a few years ago.)
The report goes on to state what Microsoft had promised, in terms of ongoing availability on other platforms, and deals with interoperability issues. Read the full Financial Times article linked above for details (a pay wall may apply).
Now we can look forward to seeing how Skype gets integrated with Office, especially Outlook and Lync as well as relevant Windows Live offerings.
Paul Korzeniowski at Redmond Channel Partner has offered his view on What the Acquisition Means for Microsoft’s UC Future and its potential impact on Windows Phone as well as the challenges that lay ahead for integration into Microsoft UC products. He outlines how Microsoft has failed to succeed in the real time communications space in spite of three different offerings over time and puts the issue as the complexity of working with these offerings: “The products involve a variety of components that need to be integrated, but often the IT staff only understands small pieces rather than the complete puzzle.”
In comparison he lauds Skype’s ease of deployment but also outlines that it will take some time to integrate what has been essentially a consumer product into Microsoft’s product lines. While he raises the security flag again, I guess he has not heard that security companies such as Check Point are using Skype heavily. Maybe Microsoft needs to recommend installation of CheckPoint products to totally clear the air.
He goes on to discuss the role Skype can bring to Microsoft through its participation across the mobile space and closes by mentioning the biggest asset Microsoft receives is Skype’s user base of over 170 million users monthly averaging out at 65 million users daily.
The bottom line challenge for Steve Ballmer and his team is to ensure Microsoft justifies through execution its $8.5B investment which will rely heavily on leveraging Skype into its product lines. We are seeing some sense of direction with respect to revenue generation with the inclusion of advertising in recent Skype client releases – it’s becoming either pay for some level of service or watch our ads.
The most interesting questions beyond integration into Microsoft offerings will be:
- the level to which Skype can encourage innovation through its developer partner programs and
- how Skype, under Microsoft with its huge enterprise customer base, leverages its way into the business market.
The next year will be interesting to observe Skype’s evolution as Microsoft’s first independent business unit and whether it can deliver on its claims in its application to the EU Competition Commission.
Final question: In a year’s time will Skype pass the “AmberMac” test?