Microsoft has big plans for Skype since the company announced the $8.5 billion acquisition back in May this year. As suspected, joint products will include a mobile version of Skype for Microsoft Windows Phones.
According to Neil Stevens, Skype’s vice president and general manager of products and marketing, a lot of integration with Microsoft products, including Windows
Skype CEO Tony Bates and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announcing Microsoft’s intent to acquire Skype in May.
Phones and Xbox consoles, and a boatload of telephony-related releases with Facebook.
Skype already offers a number of mobile applications, including versions for the iPhone, iPad and for Google Android phones. Of course, the company will continue to support and develop the apps it currently has for the iPhone, iPad and Android phones. But the company is planning something unique for its Windows Phone app. In an interview with Forbes, Stevens, said that company wants to “create an app that doesn’t feel like app but, rather, part of the phone.”
Stevens said that “Skype will be able to do this on the Windows Phone operating system because, as a (future) Microsoft division, it will be allowed greater access to deeper levels of the OS.” “A Windows Phone app, if done well, can show people what a really great Skype experience is like when there are no hardware or vendor limitations,” says Stevens.
Stevens doesn’t want Skype to be an app at all. He’d rather it be integrated into the device or browser itself much like Skype is on Facebook following the companies’ July collaboration. “People don’t want to start an app when they’re making a call,” notes Stevens. “This is the way the world’s moving; it’s hard to do on phones but we’ve to move there.”
According to Stevens, “Skype runs into those very limitations when developing for Apple’s iOS operating system or Android.”
Apple, for example, doesn’t let Skype touch the iPhone’s video processor or address book. Google allows the latter, but not the former. “We’re disadvantaged against [Apple’s video-chat service] FaceTime because of this closed environment,” says Stevens.
Skype also plans to integrate its service with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities.
Skype’s future plans also include a growing partnership with Facebook.
Leveraging Microsoft’s experience with online advertising, Skype will also start inserting more ads into its products. Stevens says Skype is testing different ad models now, such as click-to-call ads and a promotion with Netflix that gave Skype users free credits for subscribing to the video rental service.
These new products won’t go public until the Microsoft acquisition is approved, however. “We’re not allowed to do anything in the meantime,” says Stevens. “We can get a plan for a plan, but that’s it.”