Skype and Microsoft merger: more consumer centered innovation needed

Microsoft buying Skype for 8.5 Billion US $ is huge news. Steve Ballmer -Microsoft and Tony Bates-Skype The question in everyone's mind is what Microsoft will make of Skype ? Initial speculation includes integration with the office suite,with gaming and mobile and generally just become much more of a communication company. And it is this diffuse approach that makes things look a lot less exciting than Skype and Microsoft separately and brings back memories of the Hotmail acquisition.

Essentially Microsoft has been a technical company with its strength in providing the operating system for computers. Consumers get the operating system with the computer a bit like the tires with the car.  Since then the company has been more about command and control based off course on pure genius on the technical side  and a remarkable ability in "capturing value" on the business side. The world though has changed dramatically and   customer centered innovation  has put companies like Apple and Google on top of the tech innovator list. The latter have devoted more energy and priority  to delighting customers and creating value for them. The capturing value piece has sort of followed afterwards.

Sounds like Microsoft could do well ( yes Innovation 101) to review the customer needs of its various market segments and see how Skype might help. Skype users have put out a huge request not to tinker with Skype and it seems that Microsoft has assured Skype users of no change.

Eventually though, Skype will have to be integrated with Microsoft products  but it will be great if somehow the addition of Skype enhances the satisfaction of both sets of customers. Microsoft products have a huge installed base and whatever help you need (you tend to need help with Microsoft constantly) there is enough great advise when you just Google your problem. On the other hand Skype is a bit like Apple- no fuss, you just download the software and you get started, great quality and everything is intuitive. The design of Skype is great at the concept itself while Windows is expected to go to Windows 7,8,9 and so on. Off late Microsoft has become kinder by at least not "firing" customers with older software- you can read a new Word document with older software. Perhaps this change of mindset will help the Skype integration.

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