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Facebook Wants To Buy Skype 192

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the poke-that-ebay dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Remember when we learned that Facebook had resumed talks with Skype? Well, it turns out that Facebook is considering buying Skype outright. 'Skype is reportedly talking to Facebook about some sort of deal. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been involved in internal discussions about buying Skype, while Facebook also reached out to the Luxembourg-based company about forming a joint venture.'"
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Facebook Wants To Buy Skype

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  • New name? (Score:5, Funny)

    by dorix (414150) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @07:54AM (#36034034)

    If they buy Skype, they should change their name to Phonebook.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Skook!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by formfeed (703859)
      ..and change Skype to Spyme.
  • by ZaMoose (24734) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @07:54AM (#36034044)

    Seriously, Skype has been a grudgingly-necessary eyesore for years, and yet we don't seem to have a widely-accepted and/or functionally-equivalent OSS project in the wild. How can this be?

    • by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @08:12AM (#36034188) Homepage Journal
      Making a data call really isn't Harry Potter magic shit. It's a lot easier when POTS isn't involved, although involving POTS is still entirely possible. There are a few OSS PBX systems, notably Asterisk and OpenPBX, that you can slap on a server on the Internet and use to handle incoming data calls and a ton of other things as well. There are a number of Linux soft phones that will work either with one of these PBX systems or standalone for computer-to-computer calling across the Internet. The only real difference is the commercial software puts a shiny face on it and builds out the infrastructure required to make it convenient to use.

      If you slap an Asterisk box on a static IP on the open internet, and then link your POTS phone number to your asterisk box through a directory service like E164.org, the 4 other guys who do that with asterisk can dial your phone number and their asterisk servers will realize that you're doing that too and call you over a data connection instead of through the traditional phone system. I'm pretty sure Asterisk can also initiate video conferencing sessions.

      • by ZaMoose (24734) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @08:21AM (#36034256)

        It's not just about the POTS service, though. I rarely, if ever, see folks using it for voice-only calls. People use it for (in my experience):

        1) Text-only chat (which is bat-guano-insane, IMHO)
        2) Video chats

        #2 sees the most use in my family and company circles. If we want voice-only, we call the other person's cell phone.

        • And then there's the iPhone (etc) skype clients, blah blah.

          What Skype brings to the market is infrastructure and penetration. A cobble-it-together-yourself-out-of-FLOSS-components solution offers neither.

          Somebody needs to (somehow) make this easy AND free.

        • 1) Text-only chat (which is bat-guano-insane, IMHO)

          Why would I use three different client types for different communications when one covers them all? That sounds a lot like having one car to go shopping, one to go to work, and one for the weekend. Personally, I don't have the inclination to maintain three cars, and one which does all three jobs is ideal.

          • by ZaMoose (24734)

            ...Because the Mac client is a hideously-designed UI and slow as all get-out, plus I can use Meebo to integrate all my other chat channels?

          • by KhabaLox (1906148)

            Why would I use three different client types for different communications when one covers them all? That sounds a lot like having one car to go shopping, one to go to work, and one for the weekend. Personally, I don't have the inclination to maintain three cars, and one which does all three jobs is ideal.

            Well, I might have a van or SUV to do my shopping, a Prius or other hybrid for the commute, and a motorcycle for the weekend. And a truck for when friends need to move.

          • by DeadboltX (751907)
            If you haul gasoline for work then you need a tanker truck. If you like to 4x4 on the weekends then the Prius you use to go shopping isn't going to cut it. I suppose using one mediocre application for many different purposes is ok for some, but there is a reason mIRC is still around.
        • I have an online DnD group that I play with on weekends. Between then, we keep in touch using the text chat built into Skype. We don't use video, either (although that might change due to some friends from a different DnD session moving away).

          Having it all in one nice, compact package is really nice. Keeps problems to a minimum, too. Lord knows trying to coordinate seven people between three different programs is a nightmare and half.

          • Will somebody punch this guy's frequent geek card?

          • by KhabaLox (1906148)

            We do the same thing. We've tried the group video chat using the free preview, but in the end the video screen ended up being hidden, even by those of us with multiple monitors. We also used MapTool (rptools.net) for a virtual tabletop, so that was always maximized on one screen, and I usually had the SRD or our campaign wiki open on the other screen.

            Skype sat in the background, giving us the group voice chat. We'd occasionally text chat there too, but MapTool has it's own chat window (which now supports

        • by LWATCDR (28044)
    • by characterZer0 (138196) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @08:13AM (#36034192)

      XMPP video with Pidgin.

      • by hitmark (640295)

        Sadly it only works on Linux, iirc.

    • How can this be?

      It's simple: Skype is to Ekiga as Windows was to GNU/Linux circa 1998. When end users think of VoIP, they thing of Skype, not Ekiga, and only people who are both technically sophisticated and who "get it" (that is, people who want to avoid proprietary software) are the ones using Ekiga. To make matters worse, Ekiga for Windows is poorly supported, poorly functioning, and difficult to configure -- so GNU/Linux users who want to communicate with Windows users are left in a difficult position.

      • by ZaMoose (24734)

        It's simple, though -- a Skype-replacement just needs to end up on Leo Laporte's desk. He and his TWiT network cohorts have been ragging on Skype for years, and yet they continue to use it because it

        1) works on durn near every OS out there
        2) is easy to acquire and install for potential collaborators

      • by hitmark (640295)

        How well do Ekiga do NAT traversal? I think the problem-free nature of the Skype system for such is what got it going in the first place. And now that it is entrenched, its proprietary nature keeps it there as few people are interested in making the jump to some FOSS system. This largely thanks to having everyone they know already using Skype.

    • by SmilingBoy (686281) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @08:27AM (#36034286)
      One reason is that Skype has always worked well even if both call participants are behind a NAT. Which other software had this at the time Skype was launched?
    • by pmontra (738736) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @08:32AM (#36034324) Homepage
      All the software pieces exist as OSS projects but it's not only the software that made Skype big. It's been the company behind it that signed contracts that let me connect with standard phone networks all around the world. I can call POTS numbers from within Skype, I can get a virtual phone number so phones can call my Skype client. I can redirect my Skype account to a phone number or vice versa, with voice mail. That's something that a software project cannot do: you have to be a company and start competing with Skype.
      • by Weezul (52464) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @09:23AM (#36034928)

        There were also hoards of VoIP companies offering those services for under half the price charged by Skype, although some bundled the in-dial and out-dial. In fact, there are only a very few marketing heavy VoIP providers like Vonage charging more than Skype. The real issues are :

        (1) Skype's user experience obliterates every other VoIP provider : Download & run Skype, make account, done. No tweak this setting if you use symmetric NAT. No please pay us first. etc.

        (2) Skype has NAT traversal that afaik equals or beats any other VoIP software & provider combo. In fact, they use almost exactly the same NAT traversal tricks, but they may ask other clients to provide TURN (relay) when STUN fails, and maybe their STUN servers are better too. TURN gets expensive if the calls are all free.

        (3) Skpye simplifies finding people you know who use Skype. And they've always encouraged people to talk to strangers, making it more likely that your friends already use Skype.

        (4) Skype's encryption gives small businesses greater confidence.

        If you wish to compete with Skype, you must (a) match them on PTSN price while offering awesome STUN and TURN, (b) match or beat them at friend finding, (c) beat them on encryption, i.e. use an open source client, preferably Zfone, and (d) offer "something more".

        I think the logical "something more" might be encrypted friend-to-friend file sharing, perhaps with discussion threads ala facebook's photos. All IM clients offer file transfers, but no popular ones offer file sharing.

    • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @09:01AM (#36034678)

      Seriously, Skype has been a grudgingly-necessary eyesore for years, and yet we don't seem to have a widely-accepted and/or functionally-equivalent OSS project in the wild. How can this be?

      There are plenty of OSS alternatives out there...

      All sorts of VoIP softphones, text chat programs, videoconferencing apps...

      But that's kind of the problem. Skype is a single company and a single app. There isn't any confusion or choice. You say "I'm on Skype" and folks know how they can get in touch with you. You say "I use Ekiga" and they look at you like you've grown a third eye.

    • by makomk (752139)

      There isn't really one. Ekiga is close, but if you've ever tried to use it you'll know it's really tempramental. Pidgin's voice and video support is somewhat popular but I've no idea how well that works either, though it does supposedly interoperate nicely with Google Talk on Windows.

    • by Nimatek (1836530)
    • by formfeed (703859)

      There are a couple. The problem is, even the few that are available for windows, osx, and linux aren't any better than skype.

      If you want to do a conference call, you have to run your own server, or find and pay someone.
      In Skype, you just pay them and don't have to worry about any technical details or voip lingo.

    • Where is the FLOSS alternative to Facebook? By this time were supposed to be using Diaspora or one of the several other competing projects

      • by Americano (920576) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @11:19AM (#36036366)

        With EIGHTEEN public diaspora pods [podupti.me] available, each with TENS of seeds, I think it's safe to say that everybody who's anybody is on Diaspora by now.

        • "With EIGHTEEN public diaspora pods available, each with TENS of seeds, I think it's safe to say that everybody who's anybody is on Diaspora by now."

          I guess I am not anybody then. I am on their Facebook fan page and I had no idea they were up and running. I hope they don't that attitude and that they work harder about letting ordinary people know about the service or they will not even make a dent in replacing Facebook.

          • by Americano (920576)

            Smile, I was joking.

            Given that they're open source advocates, I expect that they will have the typical FOSS tin ear for and pronounced distaste for marketing and advertising, which they would need to actually attract more users to their service.

            Honestly, Diaspora is on track to become permanent "fun-time" beta abandon-ware, just like a large percentage of other Open Source projects (see: Sourceforge.net). Kudos to them for trying, but it seems to have been a poorly conceived notion that was poorly execute

            • No harm done.

              How disappointing. With all of the hype about uber geeks contributing serious money to the project I was expecting a Facebook alternative that respected privacy.

              I wonder if Diaspora fizzling out had anything to do with Mark Zuckerberg contributing to it.

              Realistically, probably not.

              College is the last time in a person's life where flaking out is okay and college students have large demands on their time. Zuckerberg probably knew this and knew his donation wouldn't produce any results beyond ma

              • by Americano (920576)

                I could be off-my-ass wrong, and I'll readily admit I'm speculating on their future prospects. But at this point, I see very little that suggests they're going to make a real go at Facebook - or even Myspace, before Myspace finally implodes. I don't think they've fizzled quite yet, there's still small amounts of activity over at github, but there certainly doesn't look like there's much of a trend towards more interest/contribution/users, and if you're challenging an established competitor, and you're not

                • My problem with Facebook and privacy is that Facebook changed the rules about what was private, several times, without notice, without permission and without apology.

                  Had those things been involved I could have chosen what I wanted to reveal like I would with slashdot, another blog or a web board.

                  I use Facebook now with the assumption that everything will be public, in time. I was looking forward to a "privacy aware" alternative to FB so I could relax and socialize more with my friend via the web. Now,

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      http://www.linphone.org/ [linphone.org]
      You also have XMPP clients that do VOIP as well as VideoChat.
      Heck Gtalk, MS Messenger, Yahoo Chat and many others will handle most of what you can do with Skype except for calling a phone number which might just be a matter of time if Google doesn't to that already.
      You know in many ways the phone number system in the was a great geocentric routing system. 1 == long distance, area code would get you to that general area and then the general area was broken down into exchanges roughly

    • This is the problem: In order to make calls between two people behind a NAT work, skype (ab)uses other, completely unrelated, clients to get the connection going. This would never fly in an open application because the helper feature would be immediately removed or disabled by the "other" clients.

      This was a huge discussion point when skype first came out. If you got turned into a skype "supernode" it would eat your internet connection. Universities had major problems with this. But apparently slashd

    • by hey (83763)

      Not to mention the FLOSS/open alternative to Facebook.
      Soon, please!

  • Google looking too? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bsharitt (580506) <brandon@@@sharitt...com> on Thursday May 05, 2011 @08:03AM (#36034126) Homepage Journal

    It seems that Google is looking at buying it too, which I'm hoping for since they're much more likely to open things up.

    • by Dakman (824764) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @08:31AM (#36034322) Homepage
      Good point, facebook never opens things up.

      https://github.com/facebook [github.com]
      • by geekoid (135745)

        Facebook opens up the wrong things.

        • by Americano (920576)

          Yeah, I hate that Facebook opens up all my personal secrets to the world.

          Oh wait, it doesn't do that, because I don't post my personal secrets to a social networking site, and if I did, I wouldn't expect them to remain secret.

    • by fermion (181285)
      It seems that google already bought at least one VOIP company, Gizmo. Maybe the lesson here is that there is not money in VOIP, but if for firm like Google and Facebook that is the business of collecting and selling personal data, knowing who you are calling can be a huge pile of money. Connecting telephone calls to ads could increase the value of the ads. Calling car repair shops, all of the sudden you are seeing ads for car dealers. All of the sudden many calls to another city. cheap airline tickets a
  • Not too sure what to replace it with. Google, perhaps. Ugh.

    • Or FaceTime? Just kidding...
    • GoogleTalk/Voice combo is close to skype now. It even operates over open protocols. I know people who have both GV and Skype, and they use Skype more, because more people use it. Google needs to get off their ass and promote Talk/Voice better. And dumping Gizmo5 was one of the dumbest moves Google did. I'm just hoping the glimpse we got of sip support last month is a harbinger of things to come.

      That, and I'm still kind of pissed that Google took international TXTing off Voice ...

  • I'm conflicted (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Manip (656104) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @08:06AM (#36034154)
    I'm not sure how to feel about this one. On one hand Skype as a company could do with a huge amount of improvement. Their support is frankly the worst I've ever dealt with from a company of their size, and their software is only one release away from breaking again (and never worked correctly on Android).

    I don't have any love for Facebook as a company, but frankly I have such a low opinion of Skype that it couldn't get too much worse, at least I hope. The funny thing is that I pay Skype hundreds of dollars a year for a service which is only borderline passable, but just like the telcos they're the only game in town, so there is no motovation for them to improve.

    If Google released a competing product tomorrow I'd switch. And, no, Google Talk is NOT remotely comparable to Skype.
    • At least facebook likes open protocols.. Their chat is just jabber, and I can connect with Pidgin.. I like that, and would love to see them either open up the protocol to something new, or perhaps move it to libjingle or something.

    • Their support is frankly the worst I've ever dealt with from a company of their size, and their software is only one release away from breaking again (and never worked correctly on Android).

      At least for Android I doubt this buyout would improve anything. Facebook's Android app is also terrible.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @08:25AM (#36034274) Homepage

    Anyone at Facebook in a position to know anything about any such possible deal is not legally allowed to say anything. If Facebook isn't dumb, they started any discussions with a confidentiality agreement due to their legal requirements not to say anything. Also, since Skype is privately owned, the majority owner would have nothing to gain by publicizing the talks.

    That means that whoever is talking to the press about this is either:
    1. some other party with a motivation for derailing the deal, such as eBay (a minority owner of Skype),
    B. an insider at Facebook illegally attempting to manipulate the stock price, or
    III. somebody with no clue who wants to seem cool to the business press.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @08:35AM (#36034358) Homepage

    Adam Connor with Facebook previously stated the following; apparently in reference to gaining access to the Chinese market.

    "Maybe we are going to censor our content in some countries” ” We have dealt with many unpleasant situations because we allow too much freedom of speech in the countries that have not experimented this until now" http://www.gev.com/2011/04/facebook-and-freedom-of-speech/ [gev.com]

    I know for a fact many users and businesses use Skype because it's encrypted end-to-end. Now, that may have already been compromised some time ago and thus no longer secure in China. But, I for one believe that Facebook would hand over the keys to the Chinese government in a heartbeat. I doubt Google would as there's already a bit of contention between those two.

    • by cowtamer (311087) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @09:13AM (#36034796) Journal

      Privacy in China at stake

      * Privacy Everywhere at Stake *

      Fixed that for you. Do you really want Facebook to know the phone numbers of everyone you call with Skype and share it with 300 of your closest friends in one of their inevitable revisions of "privacy" practices?

  • by TemperedAlchemist (2045966) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @08:44AM (#36034468)

    Don't worry, they'll recommend that you keep Skype open in the background... For added connectivity.

    I'd rather put Skype in the hands of GLaDOS.

  • All your phone calls are belong to us!

  • by mpbrede (820514) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @08:56AM (#36034620)
    If, like me, you do not want all your private information "integrated" with Facebook and its ever-changing use of private information, maybe this is the time to contact Skype (maybe via posts to their blog?) and letting them know how you feel about having all your calling information and other Skype data "integrated" with facebook. I for one have long ago deleted my Facebook profile after I started seeing how pervasive their tracking and data agglomeration on individual has become and how lax they are about sharing that data with other vendors and application developers. I share Julian Assange's assertion that Facebook is "near-evil" and cannot imagine continuing using Skype if it is a Facebook extension.
  • ... the end of all that is unique and distinct. Game over, man!

  • Do Not Want... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cowtamer (311087) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @09:10AM (#36034762) Journal

    I like Skype -- I'm a paying customer. I like Facebook. I wouldn't trust Facebook (the company) with anything that I don't mind becoming 100% public, including my credit card, and use it with that knowledge in mind. I am not necessarily interested in Skypeing with my Facebook friends or the awkwardness of socially networking with my Skype contacts (who are mostly business collaborators). [One would hope that everyone has learned the lesson of Google Buzz].

    I don't like the fact that the Internet is turning into AOL 2012.

  • If it happens, I'll stop using Skype. I'm guessing I'm not the only one with that sentiment, either.
  • by jopsen (885607)
    Why? If you buy skype you should buy it for the customer base... Facebook already have a huge user base... Wouldn't it be stupid to buy skype for the code base?
  • Don't worry, once Skype becomes part of an evil empire, if it isn't already, there's always Viber (http://t.co/wcE4frR for iPhone and now in beta for Android) to tide you over with HD voice and messaging...

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