BLOG STARTUPS, VENTURE AND THE TECH BUSINESS

July 7 2011
by Thanasis Delistathis

What’s in it for Skype?

Facebook announced a new feature that allows users to communicate with their friends via video calls.  The backbone of the service is powered by the skype network.

I was curious to see how the service worked so I tested it with a couple of colleagues.  To enable it, I had to click on a friend in my chat area on the lower right hand side of the browser and try to video call them by clicking on the little camera icon next to their name.  The service then prompted me to allow for the download and installation of a piece of code that enables the functionality.  Once that is done I was able to begin making video calls.  Quality was excellent.

The one curious aspect of the whole experience is that Skype’s name was nowhere in it other than for a brief moment when the call is initiated.  Moreover, to use the service I didn’t even have to use my Skype credentials.  This felt like a new kind of business development deal to me.  What’s in it for Skype?

Skype is a direct to consumer business and not a white label service.  A business partnership of this sort would usually be designed in a way to either generate incremental revenue for Skype or expand the number of users.  However, by not forcing users to sign up for a Skype ID it is not obvious that it does either.  Clearly, both brands are well-recognized internationally and used by several hundred million users.  So maybe Skype doesn’t need the additional users.  However, unless there is a payment behind the scenes it is hard to see, at least at this stage, without knowing what additional features may be introduced later on, what Skype gets out of this deal other than a lot of PR.  Maybe the association with the facebook brand and the PR exposure is enough to keep them top-of-mind among users and help them fight Google and Google Voice.

In any case, I like this deal.  I like it because it is designed for the benefit of the consumer.  By not forcing users to sign up for another service and simply enabling a single click operation, it signals a way of doing business that is forward looking and designed with the consumer in mind.

I still wonder though: What’s in it for Skype? Let me know what you think.

COMMENTS

July 7 2011
by Andrew Klein (Seattle)

Thanasis,

Don’t look at it as “whats in it for Skype” look at it as “whats in it for Microsoft”.

If you watched the #FBAwesome presentation, you should have noticed all the focus by Zuckerberg on MSFT and how close facebook and MSFT are and how great Zuck thinks MSFT is. You know why Zuckerberg thinks MSFT is so great? Because facebook is the “windows” of the internet.

People have said that MSFT was too late and missed the whole internet movement, but throught their investment in Facebook they can in part help drive the internet development platform in the same way that windows was the development platform for desktop software.

Hey maybe someday, facebook will acquire microsoft?

July 7 2011
by Alex Murphy

Skype has access to 750 MM FB users. Give away the service for now, figure out the demand, and then charge the top 5% of users. Pandora model.

Get people hooked, then start to charge them, MS Model.

Get FB to love the service, merge with MS, FB & MS combine to become worth much less together than apart … AOL Timewarner model.

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