In a press conferencing formally announcing its $8.5 billion Skype acquisition, Microsoft said the popular PC and mobile telephony software will still be supported on other platforms.
For many of Skype's 170 million connected users, this will quell their concern that the deal could negatively impact usage of their favorite telephony service. Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer made it clear that even though the company is excited about its integration opportunities with Skype, it will not ignore its popularity on other platforms.
Currently, Skype is offered on Mac OS, iOS, Google's Android, a number of connected TVs and countless other non-Microsoft based platforms. In mobile alone, Skype is predicting traffic to spike 26-times over the next five years, and most of that will come from Android and iOs phones.
We said we're going to be committed to providing support to non-Windows platforms and we will do it, Ballmer said. We are one of the few companies that has the track record of doing this beforehand. We have done a lot of work bringing Office to the Mac and we've done a lot of great work with other Apple devices. We have a fundamental belief about value proposition and that means reaching everyone, whether it is on your device or not.
Skype's chief executive officer Tony Bates, who will assume the title of president of the Microsoft Skype Division and report directly to Ballmer, said non-Microsoft platform support was fundamental to the deal getting done.
Bates said the companies similar background helped convince him it was the right deal to make. Microsoft made an unsolicited offer to Skype, after the company postponed an IPO. The company was owned by an investor group led by Silver Lake, which bought it from eBay in 2009. It is currently accounts for 13 percent of all international calls, making it the largest single provider of that service in the world.
We've known about Skype for a while, it's been bought and sold before. It isn't the first time the industry has engaged dialogue on it. We were looking at a few partnerships, but from our perspective we thought it would be better if we own it, Ballmer said.
The acquisition is the largest in Microsoft's history. Thus far, the famous Redmond, Wash. based company has had trouble with major acquisitions, such as as its $6 billion buy of online advertising firm aQuantive Inc. However, analysts say this could be a good fit and worth the price.
Microsoft has several areas in both consumer and enterprise sectors that will benefit from a top-notch VoIP, video and sharing solution. All of the synergies may never realize, but even the promise of them goes a long way explaining why the price may not seem that right. Skype may strengthen Microsoft's Lync, which ties together email, instant messaging, and voice communications into a single offering, ABI Research senior analyst Aapo Markkanen said.
Other tech companies like Facebook Google and Cisco were rumored to have been interested in Skype, but at the end of the day it was Microsoft who came through.
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