May 05, 2011, 6:15 PM — A Reuters article suggests that both Facebook and Google are in the running for some sort of joint venture with consumer voice-over IP (VoIP) giant Skype. While the promise of reaching Facebook's millions of users must be compelling to Skype, a tie-up with Google could bear real fruit for both organizations, especially in the small business world.
While details of what form such an alliance may take are slim, one likely and enticing candidate is the creation of an online collaboration suite that would rival Microsoft's Lync offering in Office 365 in features, and clearly outclass it in user base.
Google already has a strong online business suite with Google Docs for Business and Gmail, but as it finds itself up against Microsoft's hosted collaboration and communications tools, its own offerings, Google Talk and Google Voice, fall short of the kind of tools available with Lync.
The connection is not without its challenges. Google's bread and butter is in offering software and services that can be consumed through its Web browser, while Skype's service is primarily consumed via dedicated applications on the desktop or mobile devices. But this very disconnect may be the biggest advantage to Google. While there's a lot that can be done within the confines of the browser, when it comes to features like persistent status and presence information and video and audio calling, a standalone app may still be the way to go, even on the desktop. If the two can find a way to integrate presence and click-to-call into the Google Docs suite while keeping the Skype desktop application user experience, they would have a very powerful combination.
Both have huge user bases, and both cross the spectrum from home user to prosumer to SMB and even the enterprises much better than does Facebook, which the article suggests may be looking to purchase Skype.