What the Microsoft-Skype deal means to the mobile phone and app industries

by Morgan Phelps

Getty ImagesAll it takes is a mere $8.5 billion to forever change how calls are made. Don’t have that measly sum lying around? Don’t worry, Microsoft (MSFT) is here to help you out with its recently announced acquisition of Skype. So you can save your dollars for a new Windows Phone, or Skype-supported Xbox or Kinect.

Tailing on Microsoft’s announcement earlier this year about major updates to its Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system, the company appears to be diving full force into the mobile industry with its purchase of Skype, a move that is expected to bring mobile video calling to a much broader audience. In response to the announced acquisition, ABI Research analyst Appo Markkanen said, “Skype video calling is a rather advanced system and it would allow Nokia (NOK) or other device makers that use Windows Phone to have a strong video calling feature."

You won’t just be able to see who you are calling, but you’ll also see your mobile phone experience as a whole transformed, according to PCMag. The publication called the acquisition “an attempt to buy that most basic level of the phone experience.” PCMag predicted that the company will not have enough time to truly integrate Skype into the release of Windows Phone 7, but instead will make major changes prior to the Mobile World Congress next February, including the merging of Windows Messenger and Skype Chat and international calling over Skype to save dollars. The full integration of the Windows Phone and Skype would give the company solid competition against Apple’s (AAPL) FaceTime and Google (GOOG) Voice.

Although concerns have been raised that the deal will turn Skype into a Windows-only service, it’s unlikely that the company will kill off Skype’s iOS and Mac applications, since profits could be lost, according to Jake Zarobsky of Today’s iPhone. He also pointed to Skype’s friendly past relationship with Apple. Skype previewed a version of its VoIP app that is able to receive calls in the background at last year’s iOS 4.0 preview.

Despite the groundbreaking nature of this acquisition, Microsoft must overcome a rocky history of leveraging acquisitions. Anyone remember the results of its purchase of Danger? Yeah, neither do we. But, if successfully leveraged, you’ll soon be ending your long-distance calls via Windows Phone with the words “See you later,” and actually mean it.