Cisco Challenges Microsoft’s Skype Acquisition In EU CourtBy: Drew Bowling - February 16, 2012
Concerned that Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype could leave other video communications services out in the cold, Cisco is planning to challenge the deal through the European Union’s highest court. Although the European Commission already approved the acquisition last year, Cisco wants to ensure that the option to make calls through other video services, such as their own video conferencing service, WebEx, will not be impeded.
Martin De Beer, Senior Vice President at Cisco, published a blog post yesterday explaining Cisco’s apprehension with the Microsoft/Skype merger, emphasizing that the motivation for Cisco’s concern was to maintain communication freedom for customers across different video-calling platforms:
Imagine how difficult it would be if you were limited to calling people who only use the same carrier or if your phone could only call certain brands and not others. Cisco wants to avoid this future for video communications, and therefore today appealed the European Commission’s approval of the Microsoft/Skype merger to the General Court of the European Union. Messagenet, a European VoIP service provider, has joined us in the appeal.
We did not take this action lightly. We respect the European Commission, and value Microsoft as a customer, supplier, partner, and competitor. Cisco does not oppose the merger, but believes the European Commission should have placed conditions that would ensure greater standards-based interoperability, to avoid any one company from being able to seek to control the future of video communications.
For the sake of customers, the industry recognizes the need for ubiquitous unified communications interoperability, particularly between Microsoft/Skype and Cisco products, as well as products from other unified communications innovators. Microsoft’s plans to integrate Skype exclusively with its Lync Enterprise Communications Platform could lock-in businesses who want to reach Skype’s 700 million account holders to a Microsoft-only platform.
We respectfully request that the General Court act on our concerns and for the European Commission to ensure the proper protections are put in place to encourage innovation and a competitive marketplace.
Microsoft’s got a lot on the line with their purchase of Skype as the video-calling service boasts 650 million users worldwide, making the deal the largest acquisition ever for Microsoft. A spokesperson for the European Commission told the BBC that they plan to defend their decision to allow the acquisition.