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Microsoft Buys Skype

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 8:00 PM on May 10, 2011

Today Microsoft announced that it had purchased Skype for 8.5 billion dollars. Skype will be run as a separate business division with in Microsoft and its CEO Tony Bates will report directly to Steve Balmer Microsoft’s CEO. For those of you that are not familiar with Skype it is a soft ware application that allows users to make voice calls and chats over the Internet. Calls that are to other users on the Skype service are free, while calls from Skype to landline or mobile phones do cost a small fee. It had over 663 million register users as of 2010 with 170 million that are active and it continues to grow. According to Microsoft they plan to bring the Skype support to Xbox, Kinect and Windows Phone. They did indicate that Skype will continue to develop and work on other platforms. Whether this remains true only time will tell. There is always the fear that over time development for the other platforms like Linux and the Mac OS X will fall by the wayside and become after thoughts.

One of the biggest problems when a company the size of Microsoft buys a company like Skype is that the smaller company will simply be swallowed up by the Microsoft culture. That what has made Skype popular with users will get lost and the urge to make it more popular with Wall Street will override the users interest. An Ars Technica article also bring up the point that Microsoft already has a its own voice and chat platform Window Live, which has more active users then Skype at 330 monthly active users. So where does Skype fit in, will it be its ability to do Skype to landline calls, which Windows Messenger doesn’t do. No one knows, there was no mention of it at the announcement. The more I think about this the more I believe that the only group that this announcement is good for are those who own stock in Skype. Unfortunately for the users and employee of Skype I don’t see a rosy future. I certainly hope I am wrong. Hopefully Microsoft can use it expertise to improve Skype UI and security.  The last Skype update was to say the least not very popular with most users.  It is possible that Microsoft will do everything it says it will and Skype will become an even better product for everyone.  I am just not holding my breath on it.

 

The One Thing Apple Did Wrong this Year

Posted by J Powers at 2:17 AM on December 28, 2009

First of all, I know there are going to be people disagreeing on this, so let’s just say we’ll agree to disagree….

I have seen a few articles on the web talking about the 10 things that Apple has done right and the 10 things Apple has done wrong. While I look at some of the items on these lists, I agree with it for the most part. You can probably guess some of the things like Apple and AT&T, the Tablet rumors, not upgrading the Mac Pro, etc.

All in all, there is one thing that I think Apple should have done this year and didn’t really do. It’s something that was on Beta News top ten list of things they did right. But I disagree:

Apple did not lower the prices enough.

Back in June the gossip was that Apple was lowering prices on their Macbooks. Everyone was a flutter with a possibly “affordable” machine. But in the end, the reality was that the Intel Dual core laptop started at $999. If you wanted a more affordable Mac – The mini only costs $599.

Now if you compare that to a PC Laptop – 2.66 Dual core with 2 GB DDR3 memory and 250GB hard drive, you will find that price is at about $700. It is said that 30% of the macbook sale is profit. That is about $300 for the Apple name and OS. Apple is expected to have sold about 3 million new machines in this quarter alone, meaning $300 million in sales – or (if numbers stayed the same year round) $1.2 Billion.

Before we move forward – I realize that Apple has to answer to investors. Making profit is key, especially in this economy. However, this last year and a half has not been good to some. Most companies have tried to lower prices so people can buy more and re-stimulate the economy.

Apple didn’t do anything viable for the average consumer.

If they would have done the same thing as with the original Macintosh, then I would be more sympathetic to the cause. Basically, Apple – Back in 1985 – started a program to build, or even rebuild school computer rooms. I was lucky enough to go to a High school that had received 30 Macintosh Classics from this program.

But in this go-around they didn’t. They pretty much profited the money from the sales.

I am all for making a profit in any economy. PC manufacturers would always complain that the problem with building computers was they would only make a couple dollars from selling because the competition was so high. That is why companies made support plans – to make some extra cash on a sale.

My problem lies with the fact that a low end Macbook is not affordable to the average consumer. That is why Microsoft made the PC hunter commercials. A Mac for $1000 whereas a PC Notebook for $500. Yes, it might have a slightly slower processor to it, but will the average consumer actually notice a500 Mhz difference? We could also talk about how AMD processors would match the speed and keep the price low. But let’s not get into THAT argument.

Add to it Apple’s other interests, like iPhone sales, which are great. It costs them $179 to build a 16 GB model. Now while you are saying “That’s OK, I only paid $199 for the phone”, the reality is you didn’t. AT&T picked up the difference for the exclusivity. A $400 difference.

Here is how it works – AT&T pays Apple a monthly fee per phone on their system. So within 2 years, AT&T will pay Apple around $400 for your phone ($12-15 per month). Making Apple about $400 on your $179 iPhone ($600 in total). Of course, if you buy the phone outright, it will cost you $499.

Now we will talk stocks: This last week, Apple shares rose to $209 – the highest they’ve ever been. Why is that? No other reason than the fact that a rumor is going around about a Tablet that might be coming.

Really?

I could go on with numbers, but I think I made my point. Apple could have easily dropped a Macbook to $700, and a Macbook Pro to $900. They would have then sold Apple care for $70 a year and still made a tidy profit.

So the rumor of the Tablet is it will sell for $600. I would venture a guess to say it will be more $800 (if this rumor comes true). Why? Because Apple doesn’t want to “Cheapen” the computer experience for anyone. And they certainly don’t want to lighten the pocketbooks.