Skype intends to further its range of communications options with the acquisition of GroupMe, a start-up that is developing smartphone-based group messaging apps.
Skype, which is in the process of its own acquisition by Microsoft, has been reportedly investigating various options for the kind of conference calling and group messaging methods that GroupMe currently provides, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal quoting Skype Chief Executive Tony Bates.
We think the mobile group messaging space is very important, said Bates. It means furthering the breaking down of barriers to global communications.
Bates confirmed that GroupMe's 20 employees will join Skype but continue to operate independently rather than exist as a direct, integrated division. In addition to the central focus of mobile device messaging, the results of the development from the combined companies will be used to enhance Skype's popular desktop application.
Barely a year old, the New York-based GroupMe already handles around 100 million messages per month. Although the group messaging field is currently crowded, with major players such as Facebook developing similar services, the start-up's co-founder Steve Martocci told the Journal that he feels that Skype is with the right partner at the right time.
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There was perfect alignment, said Martocci. There are a lot of different areas where we can integrate.
With the smartphone messaging field becoming an escalating area of competition between major competitors such as Google's Android and Apple, Microsoft is eager to develop compelling alternatives for its own Windows Phone platform, which has yet to challenge more than a minority of the market share of the 'big three' -- even compared to Research in Motion's BlackBerry Messenger, which has maintained popularity despite the company's own rapidly declining share of the mobile market.
Microsoft's acquisition of Skype was announced in May and approved by U. S. regulators the following month, but is still being evaluated by regulators for the European Union. The Skype and GroupMe deal is expected to close Monday according to the Journal's 'persons familiar with the matter'.
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