***UPDATE*** Microsoft has made it official, they are acquiring Skype for $8.5 Billion: Click here for the full story from GigaOm.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that tomorrow morning, Microsoft will announce their acquisition of Skype. They’re apparently paying 8.5 Billion for it, too. Their plan (from what I know based on Kara Swisher’s blog post here: http://t.co/zdgZEh1) is to integrate Skype into Windows Live Messenger. So in other words, RIP Skype (as we know and love/tolerate it).
This could potentially be detrimental to the future of high quality calling over the Internet, and especially video conferencing if they discontinue Skype as a separate app. If this just becomes a “feature” of Windows Live Messenger, all the momentum Skype has had will be lost. Especially that name (although I wouldn’t think even Microsoft would be stupid enough to ditch the brand name for something “Live” related). There’s a reason why Apple decided to make Face Time separate instead of just adding “iChat with video” to its iOS devices. The mainstream public grasped onto “Face Time” much more than just iChat with video calling built-in. I even heard a rap song mention iPhone 4 with Face Time! Well it’s the same thing with Skype; As a separate app that focused on that one thing, it caught on and did very well.
I guess what scares me the most is, if Microsoft really fumbles this, what other product is ready to take over? If you’re answering with Face Time, I would whole-heartedly agree if it were accessible from more than just Apple devices. At this point, if I want to get in touch with non-Apple friends, it’s pretty much Skype or nothing.
So Microsoft I implore you: Go ahead and put it into your Windows Live thingamajig…but keep the option open for people to use it as a stand-alone product with the Skype name.
Oh and while I’m imploring… Apple: please make your Face Time product available on Windows. Then I’d feel 100% confident that Face Time could pick up where Skype left off and Internet telephony could become even more awesome.
Of course I suppose there is a chance that Microsoft could actually make the Skype experience better after the disaster that Skype 5 was. Unfortunately though, my gut feeling isn’t so good.