Following up on recent rumors of Facebook and Google being interested in either joint-venturing or buying Skype, Microsoft and Skype announced today that the Redmond company has acquired Skype for $8.5 billion in cash from the investor group led by Silver Lake.
Microsoft gets access to Skype’s portfolio of over 600 million registered users and is destined to enhance Redmond’s existing portfolio of real-time communications products and services. Plans are for Microsoft to connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities, as well as bring support for devices like Xbox and Kinect as well as Windows Phone.
“Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world”, said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. Skype will become a separate division inside Microsoft and Skype’s CEO, Tony Bates, will become president of the Microsoft Skype Division, reporting directly to Ballmer.
What does all this mean to Windows Phone? We knew that Skype was coming to Windows Phones this fall but what we didn’t know back then (but we have a hunch some did) was the fact that it will become part of Microsoft. With Twitter integration as well as the recent information indicating Windows Live Messenger integration in the People Hub, we might get more than just a Windows Phone application.
Windows Live, the social foundation of Windows Phone 7, already integrates with Facebook and will definitely bring Twitter integration too. What if it brought VoIP integration via Skype? That would mean that you’d have another option in your Contacts screen to directly dial the person on his/her Windows Phone via Skype (over 3G or WiFi) thus reducing your bill. It could also mean that, with great rates, you’d be able to place Skype-to-phone calls rather than phone-to-phone from Windows Phone 7.
No further information has been made public and we’re not even sure if all the above, if it will ever happen, will be part of Mango or it will land later. One thing that remains to be seen is whether the Skype app will still land this fall or will it be delayed due to OS integration.