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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

If I were Microsoft I would put Skype in...

Microsoft's acquisition of Skype has a lot of people scratching their heads.  It also has a lot of people thinking about Microsoft product integrations, feature enhancements, revenue opportunities for new advertising, and what to do with Skype's user base.

Well, *IF* I were Microsoft here are a few of the things I would do with Skype:
  1. Skype + InTune = A powerful driver to help InTune push in to small and medium sized businesses with multiple locations and centralized support teams or that work with an external partner for support.  Imagine just clicking an icon next to the time in your system tray and clicking "chat with support" or "call support" and having an instant Skype conversation with the support team... regardless of whether you were in your main office, working from home, or in a hotel room half way across the world!
  2. Skype + Lync = Compete with Google Voice/Talk as a consumer voicemail solution and you could partner with Verizon, T-Mobile (anyone but Sprint) to provide their voicemail services.  Offer plans and special deals for small businesses to allow their mobile devices to "upgrade" and fully integrate with a hosted Lync service.  You're pulling an Apple here... get the consumers and have them drive the technology in to the business.
  3. Skype + Lync = Run virtual "pbx" companies like GrasshopperRing Central, Voice Nation out of business by doing the same thing but offering integrated Skype.  If you add on on-site VoIP phones you can then compete with 8x8, Vocalocity and a dozen other hosted VoIP providers.  Skype provides the vital outside-line capability that Lync lacks to compete in these spaces now.
  4. Skype + Sharepoint the Microsoft Partner Network = virtual partner teams.  Microsoft makes use of "virtual teams" right now... this is Microsoft employees scattered across multiple teams with different goals and concentrations to do a particular project together.  Do the same thing with partners.  Push Microsoft's infrastructure out to Partners and engage them together with a combination of technologies to enable instant, powerful collaboration across a wide geography, across multiple partners and internal Microsoft teams.
  5. Skype + CRM + Lync + Outlook = a leg up over Salesforce.com.  Imagine not only having all your CRM data but being able to click a contact in CRM, hit the Skype button to instantly connect to them and then have a note made in CRM for the date/time for that contact.  All of this without an expensive onsite VoIP phone system.
  6. Skype + Outlook = more easy recurring revenue.  Bundle Skype with every Outlook client sold and call it Outlook Everywhere (not to be confused with Outlook Anywhere!) and, wait for it... give it away for free (not Office though).  Enable people to natively connect to others that have Outlook Everywhere.  Here's where the money comes in... if they want to dial out of Skype there's a "Buy Points" button RIGHT IN OUTLOOK and instantly charges their card and shows their remaining personal (or corporate if they're set up that way) Skype credits.  You still get the revenue from selling Office licenses and you could make two versions... one supported by ads in Outlook Everywhere and a corporate one that comes with Office and no ads.
  7. Skype + Live Meeting = make them a single product with a "lite" version that lets you attend Live Meetings, use the base Skype features but not host meetings.  Maybe you could use a reduced set of Live Meeting features with just one person at a time.  Allow in-app purchases for single-session upgrades to host larger meetings.  You just pay $3.99 (or whatever) and then your Live Meeting Lite becomes a full Live Meeting and you can host a full meeting for up to 10 users.  Scale it up for larger numbers.  They could still purchase subscriptions for unlimited use as well... perhaps also from within the application itself!
  8. Skype + Bing Videos = record Skype video calls straight to Bing Video and then share them either with a small group or with the world!  Have a family reunion on Skype and save it for posterity.  Have a business video conference and instantly archive it for reference later.
  9. Skype + Android/iPhone = a Microsoft foothold on competing devices through application software their owners already use.  Do it slowly and unobtrusively and without splattering the Microsoft logo across everything.  Start with "enhancing" Skype mobile with integration to a free mobile LiveMeeting/Lync/InTune client.  Depending on the product synergies you can either target consumers or businesses.  Consumers get a "free" video conferencing client that gives them a powerful voicemail system in Lync.  Marry it with presence features and make it a "social" version of Skype that works well cross-platform with Windows Phone.  For businesses, give them a way to manage those Android/iPhone devices with an InTune client and instant access to their support desk with full remote viewing of the mobile device for support.
  10. Skype + Microsoft = lots of product synergies.  This marriage makes lots of sense... if the products are intelligently, no... cleverly integrated.  If Microsoft does it right they can keep the recurring revenue that Skype generates now... everyone loves recurring revenue and subscriptions... they can add features to their enterprise and especially SMB products... and they can become a name to reckon with in the consumer space once again.  No longer is Microsoft just for businesses.
What would you do with Skype, if you were Microsoft?

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