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Microsoft Skype

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In an increasingly imperial World Wide Web, Skype has remained a service that isn’t broad, but very good at what it does.  So it was no surprise when the Microsoft empire has now acquired the service to add to it’s arsenal in the war against Google and Apple.  It is however interesting to note that Microsoft already has it’s own application, msn messenger, which includes chat, voice and video communication, but Skype offers something that msn is currently lacking, a thriving user base, largely due to social networking sites such as Facebook having the same features as msn integrated.

Clearly Microsoft has recognised this huge shift to social networking sites, as it has already created a new division to house Skype, with a focus on bringing social networking to the service.  However, it is this new focus and broadening of Skype’s feature set that could lead to the application’s downfall. Microsoft doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to innovation and is constantly playing catchup with the competition.  Furthermore, Google has made numerous attempts to create a social network to rival Facebook, but every attempt failed to gain any traction and like Microsoft itself, is left with a trail of disjointed services and cancelled projects.

Microsoft Skype

So what does this mean for current users of Skype?  Microsoft has promised that support for rival devices will continue, but the new focus on social networking is a worry for many.  The company doesn’t seem to realise that the success of Skype is partly due to the small contact lists users have.  It’s a way of keeping in touch and communicating with close friends and family, rather than the hundreds of friends on a social network and many users may object and defect to other services.

This presents a new problem for users.  What alternative is there?  Apple, Google, aol and many others all have offerings in the chat, voice and video communication space, but none have the awareness that Skype enjoys and this could make it difficult for any of them to replace it.  Which leaves new and future options to take up the reins.  Apple’s FaceTime is particularly well placed to succeed, with hugely popular mobile devices such as the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 sporting the app, as well as all Macs with a camera also compatible with it.  However the potential to replace Skype as the communication standard of choice is in fact that FaceTime is an open standard, meaning any application could use it, allowing communication between multiple different applications and platforms.  It is the adoption of the standard by other companies and the addition of text and voice only chat that will ultimately determine whether or not it becomes the de facto communications tool.

Major changes to Skype won’t happen overnight, but it’s highly likely many current users will reject the new direction of the service.  It will probably be 18 to 24 months before the more significant changes come into effect and the next major shift in Internet communications will happen.  For now it appears Microsoft have remembered that old saying.  If you can’t beat them, buy them.

Microsoft Skype

Will Skype just be squeezed in?

Written by atalukdar

May 13, 2011 at 10:01 am