Uncommon Wisdom

Sep 3 2010   6:26PM GMT

Rumored Skype buy could be monster service layer move for Cisco

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

If it’s true that Cisco has offered to buy Skype, it would be a truly revolutionary development. We can’t get any specifics on this particular story, other than that Cisco is indeed looking to make some big M&A moves. The linkage with Skype could be highly favorable to Cisco because it could be used to both promote online video calling and intercalling with telepresence systems (which would be good for Cisco both in pushing telepresence and generating network traffic). How Skype matches up with Google Voice is the competitive dynamic most likely to reshape carrier voice.

Could Cisco then offer carriers a kind of white-box Skype service? It’s an interesting speculation. A move like this would also create a peer-to-peer (P2P) based service layer framework for Cisco, the company who’s already creating strong service tools building upward from its UCS strategy. The downside, of course, would be that Cisco could be seen as competing with the telcos to which it tries to sell gear. We don’t think that’s a major problem because most telcos already think that traditional voice services are becoming an albatross.

Recall that some have accepted Skype apps on smartphones, and we’ve been hearing for almost 18 months that operators were exploring P2P alternatives to next-gen IP voice, still seen as too infrastructure-heavy for the plummeting voice prices and margins.

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