Microsoft to Buy Skype for 8 Billion
Microsoft Corp. is close to a deal to buy Internet phone company Skype Technologies SA for between $7 billion and $8 billion.
The possible deal, which was reported by the Wall Street Journal, may be unveiled as early as Tuesday and would be one of Microsoft’s biggest acquisitions in years. Analysts believe that Microsoft could be a better parent for Skype than Facebook. They also warn that with a rumoured pricetag of $8.5bn, the deal is hardly cheap.
Skype is probably the most successful real-time social communication platform on the planet, and its $8bn price means that only companies such as Microsoft have any chance of buying it.
Buying Skype — a service that connects millions of users around the world via Internet-based telephony and video — would give Microsoft a recognized brand name on the Internet at a time when it is struggling to get more traction in the consumer market.
With Skype, users can make voice and video calls to one another via the Internet for free. Users who pay can also call phones and get other services. Skype had an average of 124 million connected users per month in the second quarter of 2010, according to its website.
A substantial part of Skype's current user base is from PCs. Although mobile devices get all the glory at the moment, Skype epitomises what's best about desktop VoIP. More importantly, a laptop is probably the perfect device for many video-calling use cases, as the keyboard+hinge and upright camera is much better ergonomically than a propped-up tablet or mobile phone.
Skype gets widely-used in business – often only semi-officially, but it's a critical tool for many travellers, people doing conference calls and so forth. It is also increasingly working on corporate-grade solutions.
In 2009, eBay sold a majority stake in Skype to a group of private investors in a deal valued at roughly $2 billion. EBay had originally acquired Skype in 2005, but the deal received criticism for the hefty price paid by eBay and for the apparent lack of a clear strategy regarding Skype.
If the deal goes ahead "as leaked" this is another major step for Microsoft's aggressive pursuit of Google and Apple, which also may have a secondary effect: further pain for the telcos and especially mobile IMS and its flag-waving applications VoLTE and RCS [Rich Communication Suite].
Representatives for Microsoft and Skype declined to comment on this.