Why Microsoft's Skype purchase means a Face-off with Apple's Facetime

Microsoft’s purchase of Skype for $8.5 billion in cash is a massive bet for the tech giant.

Although it look like it may well have over-paid by $4.5 billion, and bid against companies who weren’t seriously in the running (Google and Facebook), owning Skype means Microsoft has a much better positioning in mobile.

But that’s not all.

The implications of this deal for Facebook are actually far more interesting. Since Microsoft is an investor in Facebook, the latter will now have deep access to its investor’s assets.

Being able to Skype from within Facebook means Mark Zuckerberg will not have to build his own VOIP communications platform – a seriously complex affair for 600 million users. Plus, the social network already has tie-ins with Skype.

But it also means both Microsoft and Facebook now have a stick with which to beat Apple and its emerging comms platform, Facetime.

With Facebook integration Skype will not be so heavily linked to an actual device – as Facetime is with Apple devices. Note that Microsoft has pledged to “continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms”.

This means Apple is going to have to really pull of the stops on its communications strategy. Perhaps that’s what the new server farm is for?