In their biggest acquisition ever, Microsoft has bought Skype for $8.5 billion in cash. Skype will become a new business division for Microsoft, and Skype’s CEO, Tony Bates will be reporting directly to Steve Ballmer. The buzz is saying that Microsoft overpaid by about $4.5 billion. They were bidding directly against Google, and any company lucky enough to be fought over by those two arch-rivals is likely to come away the happiest of the three. Tell Google that Microsoft is out bidding them and the price goes up. Tell Microsoft that Google is going to win this one, and it goes up again. Reports indicate that Google’s offer topped out at $4 billion, which means Microsoft won the battle, and the negotiators are allowed to return to Redmond, but at great cost. To them and maybe to us.
Whenever something like this happens, the current user base holds its breath. We incorporate things like Twitter and Skype into our personal and professional lives, and depend on them to work the way we expect. When a big company like Microsoft picks up a smaller one like Skype, the customers of the smaller company can’t help but be concerned that things will get messed up and features we rely on will be changed for the worse or gone completely.
There could be some good stuff, though, as well. Certainly, Apple’s FaceTime, though still a young product, has stirred Microsoft to move in a similar direction. Microsoft is particularly interested in the growing use of Skype for video calling, citing that 40% of Skype’s traffic is now video. This could figure strongly into a Kinect-as-communications-tool strategy, maybe a second generation move of the Kinect technology into a more advanced form of video conferencing.
We’ll have more on this as it all develops, so keep an eye on GeekBeat.TV and Geek Beat LIVE this week. But for now, let’s hear from you. Are you hopeful, concerned, or a mix of the two? If you were Microsoft, what would you do to make the best use of this new acquisition? Let us know in the comments.