Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tech Recap Week Ending 5/13 - a new Clash

It was a busy week in Tech and May is usually that way, spanning back all the way to May of 1990,  when Microsoft introduced Windows 3.0 to the world. Things changed.

This week Microsoft was at it again and they announced that they were buying Skype, which at 8.5 Billion is a steep price to pay to get your Mojo back. See my take on the deal here.

Of course Google was at it too and the shot that hasn't yet been heard around the world is their new Chromebook. A nifty way to shift people from buying to renting a PC (prices are roughly US $20-28 per device/month) and more importantly some clever security and a new way of isolating of apps from the OS to stop intrusion attacks. Google still needs to show that it is committed to this approach with its partners, but this week it certainly showed it is dedicated to Chrome. The progress Google showed with Chrome in just twelve months is impressive and it also shows that Google's development teams are maturing.

The last item probably would have never showed up at all had it not been for a smart reporter that wasn't about to be duped and it has to do with the whisper campaign Facebook tried to launch against Google. While this has been widely reported and widely tweeted about, what is interesting is that this represents an epic shift of the clash of the titans.

I used to discuss Microsoft vs IBM as the big titan clashes. Now that the battle is in the cloud, it is Google facing off against Facebook. This time it is really all about Ad revenue. Google has it and now Facebook does too. I'll certainly be talking about Facebook in the future, but suffice to say, Facebook is pretty vulnerable to the same type of PR attack it launched on Google. Even more worrisome, Facebook is also an effective tool to use as part of a cyber-attack on an enterprise (see As Facebook Grows, so does Cyber Warfare).

So a busy week in tech and it doesn't show any sign of slowing down.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Will Microsoft Get its Mojo Back with $8.5B Skype Purchase?

Microsoft needs a shot of Mojo and Skype could be part of the answer. In an Internet era where Facebook, Android, iOS, iPhone, iPad and Skype are uttered hundreds of thousands of times a day on Twitter and the blogosphere, getting a brand called Skype certainly should help Microsoft's brand recognition in the consumer space.

Of course, that assumes this deal goes down as reported in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal.  Assuming it does, Microsoft gets a hot consumer brand that it should be able to leverage its Bing Search engine against (advertising revenue).

For enterprises, the question could quickly become: Should I (pay for) Lync or should I Skype. Clearly the spin will say you can do both, but for many Skype is an attractive easy to use alternative to a Microsoft Lync, whether it be Lync on-premise or Lync Online.

Of course, the problem with acquisitions these days at Microsoft is that resistance is futile. The big divisions at Microsoft don't take kindly to threats to their dominance, so the question is, what happens to Skype after the deal goes down? Does Skype remain somewhat independent or will they be absorbed.

Either way, this deal will give some pricing leverage to enterprises on the Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) front. Skype is good enough on many fronts so that Lync doesn't have to be licensed for all users in the enterprise and that could mean a big savings for both the CIO and Business Unit GMs. Just as in Content Management, it is time for enterprises to start segmenting users and their UCC needs vs a one size fits all approach.

So overall, this deal will be viewed as more of a  Microsoft tries to get their (Internet) Mojo back than anything else. Microsoft needed to do something in UCC and this deal is far cheaper what they were looking at paying for purchasing Yahoo as recently as 2008. Whether Microsoft really leverages this Sykpe acquisition with the rest of its products remains to be seen.