Microsoft’s $8.5 billion buyout of Skype marks the largest acquisition in the company’s history. But is it really a smart move? Depends on who you ask. GeekWire’s Todd Bishop has pointed out some of the potential benefits, noting that Skype’s integration with Kinect could be a killer application. A partnership also would combine Skype’s growing consumer base (about 170 million worldwide) with Microsoft’s strength in the enterprise.
But there are also some warning signs. Microsoft’s track record of success with big acquisitions has been somewhat mixed, including its last mega buyout of Seattle online advertising giant aQuantive for $6 billion. (Most of the top execs at aQuantive left the company after Microsoft turned its attention to Internet search rather than display advertising where aQuantive shined). Furthermore, Ars Technica notes that there’s considerable overlap between Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger service and Skype and the hefty price tag values each Skype customer at more than $1,000 each.