Its acquisition of VoIP
start-up Teleo moves Microsoft deeper into the burgeoning world of
Internet communications as the software company said it will combine
Teleo’s technology with its existing MSN investments in VoIP.
The acquisition, announced late Tuesday, gives users the ability to
click on any telephone number in Microsoft Outlook and Internet Explorer
to make telephone calls, Microsoft noted. Financial terms of the 25-person
acquisition were not disclosed.
“If you’re a product manager at Google, AOL or Yahoo, you have to be
worried,” said VoIP pioneer Jeff Pulver in an interview. “If it chooses
to, Microsoft could dominate.”
Pulver said Microsoft could provide more VoIP features on its XP
operating system platform, which is SIP-compliant. So far, Microsoft has
indicated it isn’t interested in providing traditional telephone service.
In announcing the acquisition, Microsoft noted that it has already
integrated VoIP features in MSN Messenger, which has Instant Messaging
features. PC users can call each other now on the Microsoft platform. The
Teleo technology will enable PC users to make some calls to cell phone and
MSN has approached the VoIP market in fits and starts. An earlier
effort was dropped because of problems with audio fidelity and connect
speeds, but as those problems were solved in recent months, Microsoft
renewed its development work in Internet telephoning.
In its announcement, the firm said: “Microsoft plans to incorporate and
expand upon Teleo technologies, integrating them into the infrastructure
that supports MSN and ultimately projects delivering new VoIP consumer
applications in future releases of MSN services.”
The big four Instant Messaging firms – AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft, and
Google – are circling each other in the IM arena. While AOL has the head
start, followed by Yahoo, Microsoft with Teleo has a new weapon. Google
just announced its IM and VoIP entry a few days ago. “Google is
interesting here only because it’s from Google,” said Pulver, noting that
Google isn’t yet a factor in that market. “It’s the brand that creates the
Taken together, said Pulver, the Google and Microsoft VoIP
announcements as well as one from VoIP pacesetter Skype Technologies
represent fresh good news for consumers because they collectively will
help bring VoIP to consumers and that’s a good thing. Skype last week
announced improvements to its IM offering as well as new open features for
software developers to make better use of Skype.