Cisco challenges Microsoft's acquisition of Skype - Calls for video call standards

WP Central

If you've been watching the world of Windows Phone and Microsoft you'll know that last year Microsoft bought Skype in what was it's single biggest acquisition to date (and all for a quaint $8.5 billion).

Well despite being approved by the FTC and EU courts at this point, Cisco has decided it will start legal proceedings challenging the deal on the basis that it may in fact be damaging to the competition.

Now before we all cry "foul" and question why Cisco have only just decided to make it's voice heard it's important for me to stress that Cisco are not opposed to the deal itself. Instead they are calling for the EU commission to impose standards on Microsoft to ensure that there is inter-operability between all video conferencing services.

It's hard to argue with Cisco here and when you consider that Skype now has over 650 million worldwide users, it's easy to see that Cisco realises Microsoft stands to control the video conferencing market. What is instead being suggested is that such VOIP and Video calling systems should be the same kind of experience as one would get when making any normal voice phone call.

So with Skype due to be integrated into future Windows Phone versions in a big way (and an app on the way sometime soon we're assured), do you believe that a standards compliant Skype would provide a better experience to all consumers worldwide? Or do you see such standards de-valuing Skype in such a way that Microsoft's acquisition would suddenly seem all too expensive? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: BBC News, Reuters



There are 26 comments. Sign in to comment

Ordeith says:

If only someone would start proceedings against Apple every time they re-create a standard in their own image to control markets and lock people into their offerings.
AAC, Bonjour, AirPlay just to name a few.

theefman says:

Sounds like Cisco wants to get access to Skype/Lync/Messenger users by forcing MS to use an open standard they can easily hook into, negating the acquisition completely. Funny they didnt raise this before the deal was done. Skype was already the most popular VOIP solution before MS bought them so they should have raised this previously if they really wanted an open standard.

foosball says:

Sounds like a good idea...but just because it's a good idea doesn't mean it has solid legal standing and should be enforced. I'm with MS on this, if Cisco wants interoperability then it should approach MS in the marketplace not the courts.

athix says:

LOL...Cisco is probably crapping it's pants with WebEx.  They know Skype is going to be better overall and it will come pre-loaded with most Windows including mobile, tablet and PC, making it the de facto web conferencing and IP telephony tool for millions of users.

dnmartin98 says:

WebEx and Skype occupy totally different spaces in the market. Delivery of eLearning, sharing, multimedia collaboration is not Skypes area of business at this point. Lync is.

Strangis says:

I think Cisco sees it differently.
"Cisco argued that Microsoft's plan to integrate Skype exclusively into its Lync Enterprise Communications Platform could lock-in businesses that want to reach Skype's 700 million account holders to a Microsoft-only platform." - from Reuters
Of course, I haven't read anywhere that MS was planning on locking anyone else from integrating with Lync.  When I do a search for this, all of the pages I see are about the Cisco news, or a quote from someone at MS saying that Skype offers a compelling opportunity for Lync (but nothing about it being exclusive).
A friend of mine who does IT for a number of small businesses mentioned once that Cisco took months to update their Pressence software to work with Lync.
In short, I haven't read anything that suggests that Cisco has anything to worry about in terms of MS locking them out.

cedarlog says:

never going to happen they spent $8.5 billion for a reason to implement Skype in all their products and to provide a solution to enterprise customers so cisco please take any  corner and start crying

TofuDelight says:

Whaa? So they're complaining that it's too damaging to the competition?? Isn't the whole point to beat/destroy the competition?

damienhealy says:

No it's not. Competition is to benefit consumers, creating a scenario where others can't compete is monopolistic. Not saying this is what Microsoft is doing.

foosball says:

The question is whether MS has a natural monopoly or simply proprietary tech. Its clear they don't have a natural monopoly as any company can compete on their own terms.

lippidp says:

Cisco's idea is a good one. It just seems that they are pursuing their goal in the wrong arena. It needs to be a change across the entire industry, not just Microsoft and Cisco.

dnmartin98 says:

This is a little bit of sour grapes on Cisco's part I think. Telepresence is not open, though it occupies a different space to Skype. Umi was a closed system too so what gives with complaining now.....

HD7guy says:

"Now before we all cry 'foul' and question why Cisco have only just decided..."

Well, I will happily cry "fowl" on Cisco, precisely because they only now started complaining. They had their chance to chime in months ago. Too late now. Suck it up, Cisco. Instead of starting a legal whine fest, try working with Microsoft/Skype. And don't think Cisco doesn't have it's own share of proprietary extensions and whatnot, because they most certainly do.

aubreyq says:

Cisco controls plenty of stuff on their own. They need to take a hike.

OMG55 says:

Cisco is going to make me stop purchasing their Firewalls, Routers, and Switches. This does seem as if they are simply going after MS. This fact is that Skype exitsted prior to being purchased by MS....Why wasn't it an issue prior to MS obtaining SKYPE????? The judge better throw this one out ASAP!

Jay Bennett says:

A lot of very good points in the comments here guys. I honestly can't decide where my opinion falls. On one side I like standards that everyone complies to, they more often than not mean the consumer wins. On the other I think the timing by Cisco is just awful, and just suggests they're watching their own backsides

R0bR says:

Cisco is only looking after their interests in this. Cisco won't gain much from stopping the deal but having those standards will be good for them as it will give them access to the same client base through product integration.

gmantione says:

While they're at it, why not try to impose some standards on google? They have many other threats to be concerned with, why this one?

straitda says:

Companies get their chance to protest mergers and acquisitions while they are happening, not after the fact.  Look at the prospective AT&T/T-Mo merger deal.  Sprint and others weighed in on the merger at the appropriate time, before any deal was finalized.
The boat has already sailed on this MS/Skype deal and as others have mentioned, requiring open standards now, whether Microsoft was planning on pursuing them or not, devalues this deal.  Cisco needs to take a hike and stand on their own two feet in the marketplace.

DigTheNoise says:

Well if MS does with Skype and Lync what we hope, we're going to drop our Cisco CallManager and IP phones ... one of the things Cisco may be worried about with other companies (certainly not ours, if support is any indication).  That's the last of our Cisco equipment.

RayWP7 says:

Screw Cisco why don't they propose standards for other technology such as router, switch CLI, PBX and voicemail platforms. They just don't want to compete against Skype + MS.

smartrthanu says:

Microsoft should a page out of Cisco's book and charge an exorbant amount to connect to their "open" API's. By exporbant, I mean just a little bit more than simply than the Cisco product would cost. 

koenshaku says:

Its a shame a company has to deal with this level of scrutiny..

welsbloke says:

This should of been brought up when it was being considered for approval by the US and EU authorities not when its been approved. How can companies invest money like this if after the approval process you get shot in the foot devaluing the investment.
Lync is the real threat to Cisco and a Lync with Skype a bigger threat. This really should be more of a licensing deal with Cisco and maybe this is a play for that but I am getting a faint whiff of panic after the fact here.
Looks like Polycom and Microsoft are going to do alright unless the judge gives Cisco its teddy back.

ChrisLynch says:

Man, this is the pot calling the kettle black.  Cisco is only doing this to stop the bleeding, because of the fact their other products in other markets aren't doing very well.  The have no more growth in the core markte (switching and routing), so they have to resort to something like this.  Pathetic Cisco.

Narr says:

People have complained for years about Cisco abusing their position and they seem scared now. Microsoft already have a good video conferencing product and the Skype algorithms are just going to strengthen that; they don't need open standards only interoperability.
Open standards aren't the nirvana that regulators believe they are.