Microsoft and Skype – So it ain’t a Windows Mobile exclusive?

At least one of my theories is (as far as Microsoft is PR is concerned) disproven. I theorized that Microsoft would consider making Skype, with it 600+MM users (for perspective, as big as Facebook), a Windows Mobile exclusive, saying, in essence, “if you are a Skype user, and want to Skype on the go, then you need a Windows Mobile device.”

From Microsoft’s perspective, it would be a (possibly) smart move to drive customers to WM devices, albeit with the risks that (a) Skype may not be a sufficient make-or-break for sufficient to tip the market, and thus could drive many away, and (b) it would open the market to alternative VoIP platforms on iOS and Android, where many possible competitors today simply say, “why bother, everyone already uses Skype.” At the same time, finding a way to cut carriers out would give MS a significant advantage… presuming they found a way to offer data carrier services without a carrier. Everyone loves to hate carriers, almost as much as cable companies, and VoIP seems like a great future path (ignoring the fact that 4G services such as WiMAX and LTE are already structured to be all data), but you still need a mobile data line for it to work, and those are provided by, you got it, carriers.

Microsoft reportedly announced that (a) they have no intention of making Skype a WM exclusive and (b) they have no intent of cutting carriers out. Whether or not they hold to this remains to be seen, and will depend largely on internal Microsoft politics (I imagine the head of the WM division will press heavily to get exclusive mobile control), and there is a rich irony to a team in Microsoft building products extensively for Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Linux, of all things. However, if this is true, it becomes much harder to see the value to Microsoft in the acquisition. They still have those 600MM+ users, but most of these are simply not great upsell opportunities for Microsoft; either they use Windows+Office+Exchange, or they are uninterested.

Great sale for Skype and its investors; not so sure anymore about Microsoft. Personally, though, I am happy, as I use Skype on iOS, Mac OS X and plenty of other platforms.

About Avi Deitcher

Avi Deitcher is a technology business consultant who lives to dramatically improve fast-moving and fast-growing companies. He writes regularly on this blog, and can be reached via Facebook, Twitter and avi@atomicinc.com.
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