Microsoft Acquires Skype For $8.5 Billion – What Does It Mean For iPhone Users?

Microsoft Skype

After several rumors that Google and Facebook were in talks with Skype to buy them, Microsoft has surprised everyone by announcing that it has acquired Skype for $8.5 billion.

Skype’s VoIP app for iPhone is one of the most popular apps on the App Store.

Microsoft and Skype issued the following joint statement on what this acquisition will mean:

The acquisition will increase the accessibility of real-time video and voice communications, bringing benefits to both consumers and enterprise users and generating significant new business and revenue opportunities. The combination will extend Skype’s world-class brand and the reach of its networked platform, while enhancing Microsoft’s existing portfolio of real-time communications products and services.

With 170 million connected users and over 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010, Skype has been a pioneer in creating rich, meaningful connections among friends, families and business colleagues globally. Microsoft has a long-standing focus and investment in real-time communications across its various platforms, including Lync (which saw 30 percent revenue growth in Q3), Outlook, Messenger, Hotmail and Xbox LIVE.

Skype will support Microsoft devices like Xbox and Kinect, Windows Phone and a wide array of Windows devices, and Microsoft will connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities. Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms.

It will be interesting to see what the acquisition means for iPhone users. Will Microsoft neglect the iOS platform in favor of Windows Phone platform (quite obvious) or will it dedicate more resources to also bring innovative features to the iOS platform to maintain its leadership position. Though Skype offers the best sound quality through superior codecs, it has been lagging when it comes to brining innovative features to the iPhone compared to companies like Fring that has introduced features like 4-way group video calling for the iPhone and also was the first to bring video calls over 3G. We really hope that it is the latter as Skype for iPhone (iTunes link) is our favorite VoIP app.

What do you think?

[via Techmeme]