Firstly, apologies for the blogging hiatus. Having 2 kids in 2 years meant a razor-like focus for every minute of my day and my blog took a back-seat to my family blog which I maintained religiously.
Secondly, it's time for the more interesting topic of the day, Microsoft buying Skype! Wow! My view is that this looks and smells like a strategic move to stop Skype getting in the hands of Facebook or Google who, let's face it, just haven't cracked the chat market. Facebook chat is really a Mickey Mouse application at the moment.
I find this interesting as you may know, I worked for 5 years for Microsoft and sold the first global instant messaging theme pack (to 20th Century Fox). I also completed a strategic project for Skype however remain bound by confidentiality of course.
Skype certainly bring audience (reach) to the table integrating talk with chat with video. What more could you want? The real challenge which Microsoft will see is the peer-to-peer nature of Skype. Since the application is hosted on local machines, it's my understanding that user date is not stored. This will make the integration of advertising opportunities, serving of advertising and gathering of user data a real challenge. Interestingly enough, Microsoft can bring the answer to the table. PLATFORM. The aQuantive acquisition ties in nicely here.
The reality though will come in the execution. Acquisitions have historically proven very challenging and time-consuming. I do believe that Microsoft will crack this nut, however it will take a very, very, very, very, very, very long time. The promise of the solutions brought about by technology often involve a lot of wishful thinking combined with a migraine.
From an advertising perspective, there is untapped potential in Skype in figuring out how to incorporate brands into the conversations. The IM advertising opportunity goes beyond display ads to live chat with agents (bots), peer-to-peer games/application (e.g. a movie finder with trailer viewer), text links (call-to-action) or even integrated search results. The opportunities on mobile go even further with integration of a "local" aspect and location-based slant.
I'm interested in your thoughts on this topic (and your views on my comments), so please take the plunge and post below. Thanks.