Practical Technology

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Microsoft’s Ballmer $7.7-Billion Skype Blunder


I’m bemused to see that Microsoft’s Grand Poobah Steve Ballmer has blundered yet again. This time, instead of Vista, the operating system that never should have seem the light of day, or Windows Phone 7, the far too little, too late, attempt to play in mobile devices, he’s wasted a cool $8.5-billion (Billion!) on Skype.

Seriously? Ballmer just burned more money than Oracle did on buying Sun for a video-conferencing and Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) company? Come on! The only thing that Skype has over any of the dozens of other video-conferencing and VoIP companies out there is brand recognition and Skype’s brand is not worth $850-million much less $8.5-billion.

I mean, come on, Microsoft already has this technology. They’ve been selling these services in products like Live Meeting and Microsoft Lync, formerly Office Communications Server, for over a decade now. Sure, hundreds of millions of people already know and use Skype, but how long will they now that Microsoft owns it? I think Harry McCracken, well-known writer and editor, hit the nail on the head when he remarked, “Skype to be rebranded as Microsoft Internet Phone Professional Premium 2012 (KIDDING!)” on Twitter. Boy, I wish I had come up with that line. That’s exactly how people will see this deal.

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