People are saying there’s no point in Ebay’s supposed interest in buying Skype. Are these people nuts? Buying Skype would bring eBay and Paypal onto the desktop. (Microsoft and Yahoo already have some presence on the desktop through instant messaging products, and Google is building presence through its popular toolbar, its new IM service and its presence on the Firefox browser.)
Ebay’s long-term game is going to be around networks of trust and databases of known users. Ebay will make money out of this mainly by heping customers carry out transactions of any type (using the platform provided by Paypal) and also by offering customers well-categorized, vetted offers likely to be of interest to them. Most of these offers will not be auctions, however.
All in all, whether the Skype/Ebay deal comes true or not, it looks like we will end up with around 4 big players in the Internet game:
The good thing for consumers is that there won’t be a single overall dominant player in the game. That will force all players to concentrate on interoperability, which will in turn keep the door open for new players in the future.
One interesting thing is that Ebay/Paypal has been allowed gain a massive lead in the area of payments. No one else outside of the credit card companies has anything to compare with it. There is surely a massive opportunity to build out an alternative payments company with a better-secured infrastructure than Paypal? That company, when it emerges will be a natural acquisition target for Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.