How Microsoft, Skype, Nokia can rule: Cut out obscene data roaming rates abroad

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates stumped for the $8.5 billion Skype purchase and international domination may be a good reason for the enthusiasm. Microsoft, Nokia and Skype could be deadly to data roaming charges.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates stumped for the $8.5 billion Skype purchase and international domination may be a good reason for the enthusiasm. Microsoft, Nokia and Skype could be deadly to data roaming charges.

In a BBC interview, Gates said he advocated for the Skype acquisition. Surprise! Did you expect Gates to say that he hated the Skype purchase and that it was too pricey?

In the BBC chat, Gates said video conferencing will improve. He's alluding to the fact that video phones will be common---you could argue that they are today via tablets and Skype.

Kevin Fox, a Mozilla Labs designer, argued that Microsoft-Skype and Nokia can upend mobile carriers. Google is aiming for something similar.

I agree with Fox, but there are a few other key items to consider about the Microsoft-Skype combination with a broad partnership with Nokia. Here's the landscape:

  • Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 on Nokia phones will still have a tough time getting traction in the U.S.
  • In Europe, however, Microsoft and Nokia could do significant damage in terms of market share gains.
  • Skype is well received abroad and serves as a killer app on a solid mobile OS with good hardware from Microsoft and Nokia, respectively.
  • Europe also happens to be the place where data roaming charges are obscene. ZDNet highlighted the data roaming issue in polls around the world.
  • Take those moving parts and Nokia and Microsoft could take Skype and integrate it to the point where it can minimize carrier connections on the fly. If Skype could instinctively leverage Wi-Fi where ever possible---or cut out wireless carriers entirely---Nokia and Microsoft could do a real service.
  • And those data roaming charges are high enough where even folks that even the Microsoft phobic would play along.

It's unclear whether Microsoft-Skype-Nokia could pull off such a carrier-minimizing stunt, but the math adds up. Users could theoretically save on data roaming. And all Microsoft has to do with Nokia is hold the line on international market share and both companies will be major players.

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