A good friend in the telecom world, Kerry Ritz, who is the ex head of Vonage UK and before that was with 3 in London tipped me off to a move at Microsoft-Skype that is sure to cause raise some eyebrows over at WhatsApp in Mountain View and with their VCs I bet. If I was WhatsApp I would become even more agressive and start to look for more carrier and operator deals before Skyprosoft gets serious with their operator partners whom they are already deeply courting on all levels to sell services and solution. (By the way, if you're not using WhatsApp and you text across borders or send photos your missing out. I couldn't travel and stay in touch without it and iMessage as easily as I do.I just wish Whatsapp worked on tablets and had multi-device sync like iMessage.)
Ritz tipped me of about Ran Mokady, a veteran mobile exec who is credited by many as being the father of the mobile browser. Think of Mokady as the Marc Andressen of mobile. In March Mokady was made Senior Director of Program Management, Messaging and Async at Skype. Now at first blush the title has to be considered a mouthful, but given Ran's background, time served inside and around Microsoft, his work with Apple and vision, plus the ownership by Skype of GroupMe (a company that took part in one of Larry Lisser's Startup Camps at ITExpo a few years back) WhatsApp has to be looking over their shoulders.
Let's think about market rationale and opportunity. Skype is globally used and has massive penetration and market share with app usage on mobile devices climbing. Currently Skype's SMS is one way and basically useless compared to WhatsApp. On the otherhand iMessage and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) have enourmous user bases which like Skype are OTT (over the top) service. In a note to me Kerry pointed out the Lync installed user base, which I feel becomes Skype accessible very soon. Add in the demise of Microsoft Messenger and one has to know that like everything Microsoft does, they tossed a pebble in one direction while preparing to roll a big boulder down the hill.
Take all the pieces-Skype, Lync and GroupMe, put together a service focused approach, store it in the cloud, and you have one more take money away from the carrier service. Also, with Microsoft adding federation to Lync and Skype (think what Xconnect has done with cable operators voice and video traffic) with messaging it totally goes after the markets held by not only the mobile operators, but also brings in an alternative to things like Twitter and email itself. Gone are the 160/140 character limits because the messaging is inside Skype. Want to go from chat to call to video to screen share...those are why the ASYNC in the title is the key....