Posts Tagged ‘Skype’

[U] Is Microsoft paying $13 for each Skype user?

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier tonight that Microsoft–in what would be its most aggressive acquisition in the digital space–was zeroing in on buying Skype for $8.5 billion all in with an assumption of the Luxembourg-based company’s debt.

Sources told BoomTown tonight that the deal for the online telephony and video communications giant is actually done and will be announced early tomorrow morning.

The purchase–which has been spearheaded in closely held negotiations by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, with an assist from top dealmaker Charles Songhurst–is a bold move for the software giant and its biggest acquisition in more than three decades.

This deal is utter madness. Microsoft’s only option to make this deal work is to monetize Skype (and its other VOIP services) in ways that Skype itself already knows will only lead to alienation of its users, and a mass exodus from the service. Despite all the reliable sources confirming this story, I still find it hard to believe that even Ballmer is this dumb, or this desperate.

Apple, with their strong presence in mobile and Facetime, must be turning backflips right now. Not to mention the other existing VOIP companies out there (who have always had Skype as their main competitor), including Google.

The big price will give Microsoft–which has struggled in its online efforts and has lost billions of dollars for its work–a big brand name on the Web.

With Skype, which has been aggressively expanding, Microsoft will continue to lose money in its Internet efforts. Skype lost $7 million on revenue of $860 million. Operating profits, which Skype preferred to highlight, were $264 million.

And–let us not forget–Skype’s debt is $686 million. Silver lining: That’s slightly less than Microsoft’s Online Services division losses in its most recent quarter!

But, sources said, the concept is bigger than just money, including getting access to Skype’s 663 million registered users.

From All Things D

Are we really expected to believe that Microsoft is paying $13 per registered Skype user, and assuming all the companies debts to boot?

Good luck with that. Skype is simply going to disappear, along with a huge chunk of Microsoft’s remaining cash hoard and credibility.

The only good thing to come from this is that Ballmer will finally be ousted from the company.

UPDATE : Bloomberg are reporting that Skype only has around 170 million active users. Which would mean that Microsoft could be paying around $52 for each of them!

Posted: May 10th, 2011
Categories: Microsoft, News
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Skype : IPO

According to the filing, Skype’s revenues for the first six months of 2010 were $406 million, with a net income of only $13 million. But a big portion of that was from interest income. That is only a 3 percent net margin, and this isn’t exactly a new business. Its income from operations was only $1.4 million for the six months.

On the IPO road show, Skype will no doubt point to its adjusted EBITDA (earnings before income taxes and depreciation) numbers, which conveniently strip out things like goodwill, stock-based compensation and litigation expenses.

Skype, much as I love the technology, is not a company I would ever invest in.

It simply has too much potential competition now.

Furthermore, the only thing that will make Skype viable financially moving forwards is to destroy the very thing that means people use it at all.

Once it has shareholders Skype will either become an ad infested nightmare, or price itself out of the market. Expect the network, such that it is, to be absorbed in the future.

Posted: August 10th, 2010
Categories: News
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SkypeKit : Skype launches SDK beta for device makers

For nearly seven years, Skype has revolutionized communications through software that offers not only free voice and video calling, but also low-cost calls to phone numbers anywhere in the world. Now, we are taking Skype into new directions by empowering consumer electronic and desktop software innovators to embed Skype into their products through the availability of our new software development kit (SDK) called SkypeKit.

SkypeKit will initially be available as a beta on an invitation only basis. SkypeKit for consumer electronic device makers will be available tomorrow, June 23, based on the Linux OS. For desktop software developers, SkypeKit will be available for Windows and Mac in the next few weeks.

If you are interested, please check out the Skype Developer site, and feel free to sign up for the SkypeKit Beta membership. Although please keep in mind, we will activate registrations on an invitation only basis during our beta period.

Interesting.

I wonder if they have even suggested an iOS SDK to Apple?

This may explain the iOS Skype App delay…

Posted: June 23rd, 2010
Categories: Development Tools, Programming
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Inside iPhone 4 : FaceTime Video Calling

[Essentially] FaceTime is iChat AV for iPhone. Jobs presented an “alphabet soup” of technologies that were involved in making FaceTime work, many of which are shared with iChat AV, including:

  • H.264 and AAC, its ISO/MPEG video and audio codecs (just like iChat).
  • SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), the open IETF signaling protocol for VoIP used by iChat AV.
  • STUN (Session Traversal Utilities for NAT), an IETF standard for dealing with lots of different kinds of NAT.
  • TURN (Traversal Using Relay NAT), an IETF standard for allowing a client behind NAT to receive incoming requests like a server.
  • ICE (Interactive Connectivity Establishment) an IETF standard which helps set up connections through NAT firewalls.
  • RTP (Real-time Transport Protocol), an iETF standard for delivering media streams in VoIP.
  • SRTP (Secure RTP) an IETF standard designed to provide encryption, message authentication and integrity for the data streams.

What was unclear to me in Jobs’ demo was how you actually connect to other users. How does an iPhone 4 “find” another iPhone 4? Some people seem to think that you are required to make a normal cellular call first, and that is how a FaceTime connection is then negotiated before switching to Wifi.

If you read Apple’s own FaceTime page it suggests that is not the case :

And using FaceTime is as easy as it gets. Let’s say you want to start a video call with your best friend. Just find her entry in your Contacts and tap the FaceTime button. Or maybe you’re already on a voice call with her and you want to switch to video. Just tap the FaceTime button on the Phone screen. Either way, an invitation pops up on her iPhone 4 screen asking if she wants to join you. When she accepts, the video call begins. It’s all perfectly seamless.

I suspect Apple are using some part of their own Push Notification network in order to negotiate FaceTime connections.

Seeing as FaceTime is essentially iChat AV for the iPhone, it seems like a no-brainer that Apple will at some point update iChat AV so that it works with FaceTime. Or perhaps more likely rebrand the desktop iChat AV client as FaceTime.

The companies that need to buy into FaceTime are networking gear companies like Cisco (who already work to support the IETF protocols involved) and phone manufacturers like Nokia, RIM, HTC and Motorola (who are already working hard to match the iPhone’s features, look, and specifications). The best way for Apple to push FaceTime would be to deliver an open source implementation of the core technology stack, much like it delivered WebKit, and much like BSD provided the world a standard IP networking stack.

Which is more or less what Apple have said they intend to do. They will at the very least be providing an open API to all. Smart move.

Here is why FaceTime is more likely to succeed as a general purpose global Video Chat system, over services like Skype (and Fring – which uses Skype’s system).

[Skype] claims to use an entirely decentralized system of connected users in a peer to peer network that shares the load between users, rather than being a point to point system like iChat, where a user calls another user to initiate a session. But none of this technology is open to peer review for security vetting nor openly implementable by others.

That makes Apple’s alternative to Skype, both on the desktop with iChat and on iPhone 4 with FaceTime, a strategy much like its positioning of open MP3/AAC audio against Microsoft’s proprietary Windows Media Audio, or its support for H.264 over WMV, or its support for HTML5 over Adobe Flash for interactive content. In every case, Apple was working to build open interoperability over creating dependance upon a closed standard pushed by one vendor.

According to Engadget, Skype are keen to work with Apple to integrate FaceTime into their services. I bet they are.

They probably feel a little bit like Scoreloop, OpenFeint and the Plus+ network did just after Apple announced certain features in iPhoneOS 4.0!

Posted: June 9th, 2010
Categories: Apple, Speculation, iOS, iphone
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Skype to Introduce Ads?

In an interview with The Telegraph, CEO Josh Silverman explains that the company — once again its own entity — is challenged by its desire to keep Skype-to-Skype calls free and to maintain the quality of service. As a result, the Skype team is “seriously considering” including ads from third parties in order to continue to operate the service free of charge.

On that note, Silverman shares that, “It’s challenging to get right as the way people use is Skype is very personal but we think our users expect us to do it so we can continue to support free. But it will be done in a tasteful way” [sic].

If the ads take the form of little “bottom of the screen” pop-ups, in the style of You Tube, then I can’t see them raising much revenue or serving Skype’s needs. I’m not going to click on one while chatting to my wife or family.

If they are invasive, either during calls, or as a prelude to calls then I see people abandoning the service.

Perhaps ads that trail a call might possibly be a solution. But they would have to be non-irritating, captivating, and well presented. Something that no advertising network to date has quite managed.

Posted: May 15th, 2010
Categories: News
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iPad Camera Connection Kit : Other features…

Seems the Camera Connection Kit is just an expensive USB adapter :

The Camera Connection Kit for the iPad has a trick up its sleeve: it handles audio, too, via the USB adapter. Plug in a set of USB headphones or a headset that requires no drivers on a Mac – most use a standard audio profile – and the iPad transfers audio output or input and output.

I tested a Skype call with a USB headset, and the quality was just terrific. This make the iPad even more viable for phone calls, eliminating a requirement for a Bluetooth headset which requires separate charging and pairing.

From TidBits.

And if you are too cheap to buy a Bluetooth keyboard :

TUAW just received a tip from reader Jonathan, who is playing with his new Camera Connection Kit. He tells us he was able to successfully connect a USB keyboard and type directly on his iPad.

From TUAW.

Posted: April 25th, 2010
Categories: Apple, ipad
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