Is this the end of Skype as we knew it?

May 10, 2011

The first time I used Skype I was in awe. The video quality, the effortlessness it allowed me to see and hear my family far away over my laptop computer screen was magic. It was even more magical when I tried it on my iPhone — a Dick Tracy moment. And it was more impressive than FaceTime because it allowed me to talk to anyone with Skype, not just with those who had an iPhone.

Today, Skype will likely begin to be lost in the maw that is Microsoft. Sure, Microsoft still remains one of the most valuable companies this country has ever produced but aside from the XBox, it hasn’t been on the leading edge of innovation in many years. Apple, Google and companies like Facebook and Twitter are seen at the forefront of the digital age. Microsoft, in comparison, seems like the once great star athlete, a Michael Jordan attempting to regain some glory by playing minor league baseball.

The best case scenario here is that Microsoft rolls Skype into a product like Kinect, which hasn’t quite taken the world by storm, and becomes a simple, easy to use videoconferencing device for the living room, that takes us beyond just hunching over our computers to interact with our friends who are far away.

The reasoning, however, provided in a rather unimpressive press conference by the awkward and uninspiring Steve Ballmer, was to bring new customers to Windows and Office. I can tell you with some degree of experience, business users want screen sharing but they don’t have a great need for videoconferencing. It isn’t a tremendous business advantage or productivity tool.

If, instead, Microsoft predictably turns Skype into Windows Messenger Live Video Vista Professional Edition, then we will have watched one of the most exciting products developed in the last century killed off in the interest of its shareholders.


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There is no doubt in my mind that Microsoft will ruin a good thing. Skype as a free stand-alone app will not survive.

Posted by GSK815 | Report as abusive

Its shareholders. Its.

Posted by Tintinnabulum | Report as abusive

[…] Now that it is set to become part of Microsoft, is this the end of Skype as we know it? And, the Skype sale makes Goldman the top financial advisor of tech […]

Posted by peHUB » peHUB Second Opinion | Report as abusive

I think you’re being overly cynical. Skype as part of the office suite could do a lot for remote working. Skype being taken seriously for business could be a very big deal. Companies might run skype servers than federate (like Outlook/Exchange federated with standard email).

Posted by nicfulton | Report as abusive

Looks like you haven’t done your homework before bashing Microsoft for buying Skype. If Kinect hasn’t taken the world by storm (it is the fastest and most selling device of all time!), then I can’t guess what else will.
Poor article written with no insight.

Posted by usudarshan | Report as abusive

Well, Skype on the Mac is terrible, so anything Microsoft can do would have to be an improvement.

Posted by getmysurfboard | Report as abusive

As long as they don’t charge for it, and put up annoying ads during calls, they can call it whatever they want. Just as long as my daughter can still play with her grandparents an ocean away.

Posted by Grant_X | Report as abusive

Did Microsoft actually pay $8.5 billion for a money pit like Skype? Ballmer must be delusional.

Posted by GallupsMirror | Report as abusive