The big tech buzz this past week has been that Microsoft is going to buy Skype for $8.5 billion. That's the most Microsoft has ever paid for anything. I feel about the same as David Pogue in a recent column:
Every time some big clumsy corporate behemoth buys a popular consumer-tech product, I cringe. It almost never works out. The purchased company’s executives take a huge payday; promises are made all around that they’ll be allowed to continue operating independently; and then, within a couple of years, the product disappears altogether. A little star of the tech sky is snuffed out, for absolutely no good reason.
Pogue points out that although some analysts have said that the purchase is a good idea in order to include Skype’s voice and video technology into its products, that Microsoft already has NetMeeting and Windows Live Messenger - two similar services that never really caught on.
Skype did catch on. To the tune of 170 million people who it every month. 9 million of them are even willing to pay for the ability to make voice calls to telephone numbers, rather than just other computers or phones.
Let's hope that Microsoft doesn't kill it or change it so radically that its faithful users drop away.