The big news of the week, of course, is Microsoft's acquisition of Skype. Everybody is in processing mode and, of course, absolutely nobody knows what direction the combined entity will take and if things generally will work out.
That said, people like to comment. Many of them are very smart, so the best first step is to sample the reaction around the Web.
Seattlepi.com has takes from several quarters, including GigaOM, Ben Brooks and Lost Remote. Redmond Magazine, which covers all-things-Microsoft, essentially just reports the news. Ben Horowitz, a general partner in venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, was laudatory:
Today, I tip my hat to an old rival, Microsoft. By acquiring Skype, Microsoft becomes a much stronger player in mobile and the clear market leader in Internet voice and video communications. More importantly, Microsoft gets a team, ably lead by the exceptional Tony Bates, that can compete with anyone.
Here is an excerpt from the story by Engadget's Vlad Savov:
Xbox and Kinect support are explicitly mentioned in the announcement of this definitive agreement, as is Windows Phone integration -- both the gaming and mobile aspects being presumably key incentives for Microsoft to acquire Skype. Importantly, this purchase shouldn't affect Skypers outside of the Microsoft ecosystem, as Steve Ballmer's team promises to continue "to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms."
Microsoft has communications apps for personal life like Messenger and Hotmail, for work like Outlook and Exchange, and devices like Xbox, Kinect and Windows Phones, and Skype sits at the nexus between all of these, and so there's opportunities in all those areas.
The piece includes some Microsoft slides on the deal.
Assuming the deal is consummated, it is clear that this will push related trends that are so big that they often go unremarked upon. The first is that the demarcation between consumers and work technology has essentially ceased to exist. The other side of that coin is that this merger involves offering more muscle to consumers. The trend toward an equalization on the higher plane is due to the emergence of increasingly powerful devices, networks and the cloud. The latter is a giant abstraction layer that lets all consumers call on assets that that they don't have in their desktop or mobile device, nor necessarily even own.
The combination of Skype and Microsoft will push this trend in ways that only will become clear later. The combined entity, as Gobry says, will have a foot in the work, personal and gaming worlds and, thus, will further equalize the assets available to consumers and business people.