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Is there time left to out Skype Skype?Chris Koehncke
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to recognize that Microsoft is likely to take their $8.5 billion investment into Skype and leverage that product into it’s enterprise Lync. Microsoft has been gaining traction (and share) with a full court press on the enterprise market. Their message is simple, you’ve already got our Office Suite, certainly using us for email with Exchange and you’ve been needing to get control of instant messaging and do you really need a big ole’ separate box for just “voice”? Nah!
So it’s not hard to see Lync embedding Skype functionality. It’s also likely they’ll offer a variety of ways to deal with your various identities and yes even some phone numbers. It’s entirely feasible your entire ecosystem of contacts would be reachable via this Lync/Skype connector. Let the phone network handle 911 calls! But need to make an international call, Skype will handle that for you if you want. If Microsoft’s smart, and they are, I suspect/hope we’ll see some smart identity management. The more you look at this, the more Microsoft starts looking like a phone company.
To further widen the gap, Live.com will also offer the consumer and prosumer (meaning those businesses too small to need Lync) a way to access this world via the online portals. The more identities Lync/Skype collects, the more powerful it becomes. Neither Cisco nor Avaya stand much of a chance of stopping this stampede.
But what about our telco friends? With the advent of WebRTC, the technology to power all of this lies at their feet. These large telcos have huge user bases, loads of identities (otherwise known as phone numbers) and trust. Will they get caught up in looking too much and acting too little?
The opportunity is for telcos to obviously to leverage these installed base, be willing to take risks (and fail – but fail faster), understand that the world is running on newer identities and the telephone number is yesterday’s RS-232 cable, still relevant but there’s room on the shelf for others. Trust remains in their court, but it’s not as heavily weighed as it was in years gone by.
Arguing about the signaling format for WebRTC is irrelevant, what telcos need to realize is that they are fighting now for their existence and circling the wagons with their peers, that’s not going to protect them in the battle ahead. The open source community (read Google) has given them the tools to fight and they need to pick up this weapon and go.