On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that it had acquired the Luxembourg-based, Estonia-founded Internet phone company, Skype for $8.5 billion (6 billion euros). In February, Microsoft and Nokia struck a sweeping deal that would bring Windows Phone operating system as its “principal smartphone strategy,” and where Nokia would “drive the future of Windows Phone.”
To learn more about the alliance, Deutsche Welle turned to Linnar Viik, a man often called the father of the Estonian Internet. Viik was instrumental in implementing the country’s “Tiger Leap” project in the late 1990s, which wired all Estonian schools and established free Internet stations around the country. Later, he was a director of product development at Skype and is now the rector at the Estonian IT College in Tallinn.
Deutsche Welle: This deal has gotten a lot of attention around the technology world and in Estonia, too, I’m sure. Why is this deal a good thing for Skype?
Linnar Viik: Skype has been successful in the retail business, but despite its effort to build up a close relationship with the business community and a good product offering, it has not become “sticky” to the business user at anticipated levels. That can be reflected in Skype revenues: The vast majority of Skype revenues are still related to the retail users. So I think the big network of business reselling and value-added partnership of Microsoft, formally present around the globe, could be an extremely good integrating channel into a business productivity [application] with the functionality of Skype.
On a business level, Microsoft does not have such an offering at the moment. I believe strongly that from a business communication and group-working and networking perspective, Skype adds value to Microsoft, and Skype can also benefit from the Microsoft network.
Also, I think that the presence of Microsoft’s most successful products, the Office family, in the business use, could be a splendid case (…) where Skype would be closer to a number of Office applications, or integrated more closely with Office applications.
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