There’s a very interesting story on the wire this morning. Microsoft has acquired Teleo, a San Francisco VoIP startup, and plans to offer VoIP services (both paid and free) through MSN. Repeat after me: softphones are platforms, softphones are platforms.
You can read about it on:
Seattle PI: The Seattle PI includes this interesting tidbit:
Teleo’s technology also includes a feature for clicking on a link to quickly launch a voice call. Because of that, the technology could also be incorporated into MSN Search results. In that setting, the company may end up allowing free PC-to-phone calls, making its money instead through related search-based advertising, Richardson said.
The Boston Globe:
Microsoft is not interested in selling a service to replace traditional telephone calling, Irving said. Instead, the company wants to provide both free and paid services that let MSN Messenger customers call friends on their contact list or dial businesses they’ve searched for. For example, if a user looks for a pizza parlor, he could then click on the results to call the store and order a pie, Irving said.
"This acquisition opens up infinite opportunities for Microsoft to enable even more relationship-centric communications experiences for our customers in the future," Irving enthused.
Andy Abramson (he says it’s meaningless in the long run.)
There’s a certain bittersweet element to this. I built a business plan for a Teleo-like service in the fall of 2003, and shopped it around to numerous Canadian VC’s, none of whom would finance.