When Microsoft acquired Skype, Skype was an awesome product and a very viable challenger to the traditional telcos. Many pundits would say it's not as good today as it was before and they are likely right, and that's due largely to integration into the rest of the Microsoft platform. But the real story about the Skype purchase continues to be playing out month after month, as Microsoft reveals what many of us have suspected for some time. They want to be your phone company. And they are doing this by working with the telcos, not against them as the Register UK points out.
After the purchase was announced former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer met with CEO's of telcos to assure them that Microsoft wasn't their competitor, and that instead they were a valued partner, beginning to engage more with the telcos to be a vibrant sales channel for them for services like Office 365, Xbox as well as the new line of smartphones that eventually came about with the now failed Nokia acquisition. It was in in those meeting that Ballmer laid out the plan of how Microsoft would be using Skype to make them more money by providing them an enterprise offering that would allow the telcos to not see defections to the likes of 8x8, Switch, Mitel and others. Because Skype's growth was occurring on the mobile platforms, Ballmer started with the wireless side of the house at the operators and with the latest move, Microsoft is moving more deeply into the enterprise market by appealing to their broadband side. In essence Microsoft is doing what it always has done. Sell through channel. License its software and be the technology supplier. In this case, its going after the lucrative voice market. The carriers dumb pipes carry the data, which in this case is the voice packets the same way they carry Outlook content, Word or Excel or PowerPoint files.
Basically, Skype already proved that as an Over The Top provider of decoupled telephony services that it could use the telcos pipes to deliver reliable and feature rich telephony services without the carrier selling those, as long as the customer had broadband access. So this is really a full circle play, but with one change. The efforts are now with the operators support and blessing vs. where Skype was the enemy. With the news about Skype For Business and their newer Skype Meeting Broadcast, Microsoft is readily taking on the established players and saying again to the telcos, be our pipe, be our distribution partner, sell our services, carry our packets, but get out of the business of carrying voice...because with the Skype core, MSFT can do it better, cheaper and innovate faster, as video calling, something the telcos have tried to do since 1964, points out.
With the recent news, all the so called "partners" of Microsoft who are telcos, VoIP providers or conference providers may have to start to worry. If Microsoft was your so called friendly partner, are they now your frienemy or even enemy? But as carriers like AT&T, BT, Verizon and others want to be less reliant on voice revenues, sell more data and networking solutions in the Information Services sector, is this really bad for them? I think not. It's good for them, as long as the pipes are level for everyone.
P.S. And if you wondered why Citrix is looking to dump GoToMeeting, all you have to look no farther than this news.