Microsoft has acquired VoIP firm Skype for $8.5 billion following a spate of rumors that the service might be purchased by Google, Microsoft and Facebook.
Skype had revenue of $860 million last year, but lost $6.9 million and has $686 million in debt. It has a user base of 663 million, of whom 145 million use the service monthly.
We’re not sure what Microsoft is up to here, except onloading some of its cash hoard. It will be interesting to see what changes it can bring to the service to make it profitable.
Google launching cloud music service
Google is expected to launch its cloud music service, similar to the music service offered by Amazon, at the I/O conference today.
Reports say the company is starting the service without approval from major music labels and publishers. The service will let users upload music they own to the cloud so they can stream it on the web or to Android phones and tablets. Because it doesn’t have agreements with the music labels, Google will not be able to sell songs to consumers the way Amazon does.
It will however, offer more free storage than Amazon – the ability to store up to 20,000 songs at no charge. The beta version launching today is invite-only.
YouTube adding 3,000 films to rental service
YouTube says it will add 3,000 movies to its on-demand video rental service. The new content includes films from Sony, Warner, Universal and Lionsgate.
It will also include film reviews and DVD-like movie extras such as behind the scenes docs.
We haven’t tried this yet, but the service, aimed at competing with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Apple, will have to deliver better quality than most of the regular videos we view on YouTube. Have you given the service a try? Is the quality equivalent to Netflix’s streaming service?
Netflix queries us regarding the quality of its streaming delivery on a regular basis and so far, it has been mostly excellent.
We stream most of the films, TV series episodes and docs we watch from anywhere except cable TV and it’s catching up to that. Down the road, however, we suspect commercial Internet service providers are going to put a meter on us, restricting how much bandwidth we can use without paying surcharges. That could have a dampening effect on these streaming movie services.