When you spend US$ 8.5 billion on a company, you'll want to start earning some of that back someday, Microsoft thinks it has that figured out.
Don't Panic the Users
For the millions of Skype users in consumerland, there is little likelihood of Microsoft ever doing much more than a pricing tweak as currency rates across the world go round like pinball scores. However, in the enterprise -- where companies pay big bucks for all kinds of services -- Microsoft is probably best-placed to earn back some of that payout.
At a recent NASDAQ investment event, a Microsoft corporate strategist told attendees that he compared video to email, where the core service is free, but some of the peripheral features are monetized in the business space.
Skype the Power
For Skype in the enterprise, that means the company can make its money on features like archiving of voice and video calls, for later playback, legal storage requirements and so on. It could also charge for authentication services to create some level of security.
At an IT level, that would encourage group installations and make Skype more widely available while making it easier for IT, legal and HR to monitor calls from a governance perspective. They won't be blockbuster revenue generators, but could bring in the nice steady stream of cash that Microsoft's business-focused businesses thrive on.
Expect more on this in 2012 once the Skype and Microsoft executives have all gotten to know each other, and things start to really get moving.