Here are some of my initial thoughts on why the Skype deal is a good one for Microsoft, presented in sections, like a good PowerPoint.
Cool features that won’t make much (or any) money, but might improve market share:
- In game voice calls when using Xbox
- Skype someone straight from Outlook
- Or Hotmail, if anyone even uses Hotmail any more
- Skypeout someone at any phone number that shows up in any Office application
- Find a number in Bing and one click call it
Ways Microsoft might use Skype to make money from businesses:
- Integrate features into Exchange server to enable enterprise VOIP
- Better yet: integrate features into the suite of online apps for small business – they need the savings on phones more than enterprises and lack the skills to set up their own VOIP
- Implement a “call me” feature for advertisers
- Integrate Skype into their investee Facebook to help counter Google’s voice products
- Continue to wall off Yahoo from anything business related, relegating the ‘hoo to being a consumer content company
- If the SMB play works, leverage it against Zoho, Google docs and other productivity apps
- Build relationships with phone carriers who are moving to IP networks and losing landlines as fast as Lady Gaga is losing fans
Where it won’t work, even though Ballmer thinks it will:
- Microsoft mobile OS
Did Microsoft overpay at $8.5 billion? Definitely. But they’ve got about a zillion dollars in cash, earning about zero percent interest, much of it sitting untouchable overseas, where Skype is conveniently located. So what’s a billion or two between friends?
Of course, all of the above assumes that Microsoft executes, which is a big (BIG!) assumption. After all, if Microsoft were good at executing this stuff we would all be using Outlook Live instead of Gmail.
See here and here for NY Times coverage, here for TechCrunch and here for GigaOm.