Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Microsoft and Skype - Now THAT's Interesting!

MicroSkype? - clunky, but there's a fit here. I've been traveling, and haven't been able to comment on this news til now. It's too late for news, and you've probably read enough about this already, so I'll just add a few thoughts here. I should add that the UCStrategies group did a podcast on this yesterday, and while I missed that, it's ready now - here's the link.

Since I am behind the curve here, I'll at least point you to colleague Dave Michels, who had the scoop on this ahead of almost everyone - here's his take.

My turn - in short, it's good for Microsoft because...

- both have deep, global reach with consumers, with lots of ways to help each other's brands - two strong brands for very familiar products is a great foundation for growth - and don't forget about their stake in Facebook - interesting, no?

- they need a new hit for the consumer space - and just think about how well this could play with Xbox

- Skype is on track for $1 billion in revenues, so there's a nice financial impact right off the bat

- it's a great fit with Lync to help them succeed with in the business market as they shift from software to the world of apps, UC and the cloud - think about the collaboration and real time messaging possibilities with Windows, Office and Skype - both for enterprises and especially SMBs (where MSFT stumbled with Response Point)

- again, for the business market, Skype brings the critical voice piece that MSFT never really had - this will reduce their dependence on telecom vendors, and makes you wonder if they're seeing something in Skype that Avaya wouldn't/couldn't see

- they need to stay relevant in the mobile market, and with Skype's user base, this opens a lot of doors for disruptive mobile offerings - and just think how interesting this would become if they went on to acquire RIM

- it's affordable financially, but is probably their biggest acquisition to date

- they need to shake things up overall to keep pace with Google, Apple and Cisco - plus this keeps Skype away from them - MSFT can't match these companies now for coolness, and Skype's cachet can help this in hurry - it's a bit like free agency in sports - MSFT needs a power bat and Skype is the best option available today

- they need an infusion of innovation and out-of-the-box thinking, and that has been Skype's calling card - maybe not as much as in the early days, but the culture is still there

It's also good for Skype because...

- they get a partner/acquirer who can help them reach fuller potential in less time than staying independent

- not only do they have a stronger product set to integrate with, but a great user base (sans IBM Sametime and the Mac world), as well as established channels for distribution

- the pressure is off for an IPO (they are carrying a lot of debt, after all), and this is a nice, tidy exit for the investors and founders

- the pressure is off Avaya to find/create synergies with them - now both can go their separate ways, but could well meet again as competitors

There's SO much to be said about all these points, but time is short in my world right now, and I have to move on. Don't let that stop you from adding to the conversation - am always keen to hear your thoughts.

Oh, before signing off, this news took me to the Wayback Machine and my early days of blogging. There was a time, folks, when Skype and Apple sounded like a good idea - and back in 2005, I sure thought so! Imagine what could have been if Skapple happened, and add to that the iPhone world of today. Whoo wee...

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