2013 will be the year that Microsoft becomes relevant once again.
It will begin to use its dominant position on the desktop and in gaming to build an exciting ecosystem that will make Microsoft a compelling choice for consumers, and by extension an increasingly important advertising partner for marketers.
In the next couple of years, firing up a phone call or video chat with a friend on the opposite side of the world may not require you to launch Skype, Google Chat or one of the many programs that let individuals connect over the internet. Instead, you'll be able to communicate with voice and video using nothing more than your web browser.
If and when that day comes, you'll thank technologies WebRTC, which enable real-time communication between browsers. Originally developed by Google and currently supported only in development builds of Google's Chrome browser, companies like VOIP provider Voxeo are demonstrating WebRTC's nifty capabilities and providing a preview of what the future might look like for web-based communication.
Last month at Lithium's Network Conference, Lyle Fong, Lithium's co-founder, reiterated how we have to start to look differently at how businesses use social media for marketing and support.
In order to be successful, the four "gears" of acquisition, engagement, enlistment, and monetization have to all spin equally. But in order to get there, you have to get them moving in a specific order depending on your purpose.
Skype may be the most popular consumer VOIP service in the world, but it faces numerous challenges, not the least of which is getting consumers to want to connect with their friends and family using voice.
So how can Skype convince consumers that there's still no more powerful and effective a way to communicate than with a phone call? The possible answer: remind the world that social networking and texting is a lame way to reach out and touch someone.
Microsoft's $8.5bn acquisition of Skype is its largest purchase, and it puts in to play its vision of a web based on social relationship, location, and application experiences.
Last night, Microsoft Online Services Division President Qi Lu presented the firm's view of the Web's future, which helps put the importance of the Skype purchase into perspective.
Facebook is a social network, yes, but it is also a communication tool. Which is why it makes sense to
add "voice" to the platform via a deal with Skype.
Skype may be one of the most important companies on the internet. Not
only has it created a way for hundreds of millions of people around the
world to communicate cheaply, it's found a way to make a mint doing so.
The company generated $400m in the first half of 2009, most of which
came from its SkypeOut offering. But ahead of an IPO that it hopes will
raise $1bn, the company is creating some ad inventory in its desktop
Cellphone carriers better prepare to understand the meaning of "tyranny of free." Today at Apple's fall product launch, Steve Jobs announced that iPhone and iPod Touch products can now make calls to other Apple mobile devices without the need for a cellphone contract.
It could take awhile for Apple and Google's similarly free voice calling features to go mainstream. But both products point to an ever present threat in the digital world, where free can be a nasty four letter word.
Skype has an interesting business model. The wildly popular internet phone and video service lets people call other Skype users for free, and pay a small fee to dial terrestrial phones. But if everyone started using Skype, the company could put itself out of business. Before that happens, Skype is trying to increase its advertising options.
This week, Skype announced Click & Call Advertising, which converts business phones numbers online into free call links when companies advertise with Skype. Skype might be on to something here.
According to one report, peer-to-peer VoIP provider Skype is the largest carrier of international voice calls. But the company think it's just getting started as the company looks to expand its large footprint by turning "every connected device" into a communications device that can run Skype.
How will it to that? Easy: make it possible for Skype to find its way into all of the devices that were once 'offline' but that are now being connected to the internet.