This is important, I think
So Microsoft bought Skype this week. Skype is the hobby of some telephony enthusiasts intent on chatting over the internet through voice over IP (VoIP). A business makes money, a hobby doesn’t have to and Skype never has, hence the designation.
Deciphering the meaning in this transaction is something of a challenge. Microsoft has a very serviceable unified communications (UC) solution for businesses, which I have often suggested should be tightly integrated with Dynamics CRM for numerous reasons that amount to low cost, green and smart. Still we wait. So in this environment it is puzzling why the company would invest $8.5 billion in this VoIP company.
Others have suggested a future link between Skype and Microsoft’s burgeoning gaming products and I wonder if that’s the direction of the purchase. Skype has over half a billion customers — let’s just call it one FB (a Facebook unit). If ten percent of them are would be gamers, it would open up a lot of new opportunity for Microsoft. When you are as big as Microsoft (revenues of about 62 billion — just call it an MS unit — you need numbers like that to make the needle move and bring smiles to the faces of the gnomes on Wall Street. So I get it but only so far.
It would be severely interesting to see Microsoft attempt to become an alternative telephone company competing with Verizon and ATT on one hand and Vonage, Comcast and other cable providers (Verizon again) on the other. None of them has innovated beyond their basic service offerings and it’s time some body did. It could happen. Consider this: televisions are being built with basic web access features today and with a little push your TV could become your primary telephony device, with images too. At this point it’s a cultural issue not technology.
Tele on the tele could make TV and telephony interesting again. With transportation costs escalating and the majority of the people I survey already feeling the effects and driving less, telepresence for the domicile might be very attractive. Furthermore, tele/tele might become a reality show of sorts with all of us actors and viewers in our own dramas simultaneously. Marshall McLuhan would approve.
What are you doing Friday night? Hanging with some friends around the electronic hearth with a bottle of Zin? Hosting the book club? It could happen.