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Voices not Eyeballs: Ebay Buys Skype

Ian Fogg on the Ebay/Skype deal:

Telecoms firms may breath a sigh of relief that this deal is final confirmation that Skype is not a telephony business and therefore not a threat. The thinking would go as follows: the Ebay acquisition will deflect Skype from a straight voice communication and telephony play. Skype’s roadmap focus will change to value added features that support Ebay’s model rather than a feature set evolution that impinges on traditional telephony.

That would be a risky bet for traditional telecoms firms to make.

1. There are plenty of other Internet VoIP players in the wings if Skype does not continue to challenge.

2. Ebay has the scale to accelerate Skype’s development roadmap towards auction-related features without damaging telephony feature plans. Ebay is a very profitable company with deep pockets: it made $379m in q2 on turnover of over a billion. If Skype’s telephony features do continue to improve, Ebay’s size will also boost Skype’s marketing, as Skype’s benefits are evangelised to Ebay’s 157 million registered users.

Nevertheless this is a courageous move by Ebay. With Paypal it acquired wallets. Its auction business captivates numerous eyeballs. Now it’s acquiring users’ voices. What next?

[Ian Fogg]

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