In a world where each mobile OS vendor is trenching up in its proprietary video calling service, Microsoft has done the unthinkable: it acquired Skype and with it the ability to provide voice, video, presence and IM services on multiple platforms – desktops, mobile handsets, you name it. And over virtually any operating system.
This puts a hugh advantage in the hands of the mobile operating system with the least probability of success, as Skype is known for:
- Its complete communications feature set
- Its large user base
- Its already in-place monetization mechanisms
While Google, RIM and Apple are providing video services for free, Microsoft can charge for value added services and PSTN termination. And can do that not only on top of its own operating system, but also on top of those of its competitors. It fits well into the fact that it already makes more money out of HTC selling Androids than Windows Phones. And as making money out of the hardware of others is something Microsoft does already, it is also second nature to them.
The fact that they now have their megadeal with Nokia, who is going to shift from Symbian to Windows Phone, means that they also have the largest phone vendor to push their OS to the market.
Will they be connecting their Lync service to Skype? Will they make it work on the Xbox? Will they focus with Skype on consumers only or will they take it up to enterprises? Will Skype be integrated into Office? Will it be embedded in Windows Phone OS?
I’d say yes to all of the above.
Is this good for the VoIP industry? I am not sure. It is a sign for things to come: proprietary, OTT solutions are winning over standards-based solutions. Walled gardens are here to stay, and nobody really cares if the solution uses SIP, H.323 or even XMPP. The real truth is that VoIP deployments can’t really interoperate with each other – not to the level that brings us new services on anything other than voice.