Skype has the opportunity to break away from the dumb pipe race by defining a UC interface for rich communications. Skype could emerge as a de-facto standard for interoperability
Microsoft's acquisition of Skype is not just another purchase. Microsoft acquiring Skype is a watershed event, a confirmation of sorts, for cloud services, VoIP, unified communications, and freemium. One of the biggest software vendors agreed to spend $8.5 billion on a freemium cloud play that's losing money. That's about $1,000 per "paying" customer which incidentally doesn't pay much. This isn’t about Microsoft or Skype as we currently know them, nor about VoIP or presence, or even video. It is about Microsoft seizing an opportunity to disrupt and steal the carrier space.
Skype, or more accurately Microsoft, has a limited window to define the future carrier. The window is created by the state of both UC capability and interoperability. To fully exploit this window, Microsoft is going to need to push Skype far further into the mainstream--at work and at home.
Take a look at current industry trends:
* Unified communication solutions commonly include presence/IM, voice, and video communications.
* The vast majority of enterprise premise and hosted voice solutions typically support rich communications including wide-band audio, presence, and video--on internal calls only.
* The current notion of presence federation requires non scalable coordination and setup.
* The ability to dynamically migrate an IM to voice or video and back is generally limited to like and proprietary systems. * Video interoperability is limited from both compatibility and dial plan perspectives.
* Enterprise organizations are massively migrating to SIP trunks for cost savings, which generally reduce rich UC solutions to basic telephony services of yesteryear.
Now, take a look at Skype:
* Last year, Skype users made 102.5 billion minutes of calls on Skype, equal to about 20% of total international calling.
* In Q410, video calls accounted for approximately 42% of all Skype-to-Skype minutes
* In 2010, users sent over 176 million SMS text messages through Skype.
* Skype reports 170 million active users a month, and recently passed 30 million simultaneous users.
* Skype is global, assigns numbers, and has more users than any other Internet company with similar services. For example, Google Voice, which offers some overlapping services, is only available to US users.