The Lead: Lodsys v. App Publishers Everywhere
Lodsys, Patent Holder, Shakes Down iOS Developers for Violating an In-App Purchasing Patent
It seems that a company called Lodsys bought a few patents in the 90s that are turning out to be valuable, on in-app purchasing. Brian Chen for Ars investigates a little. It turns out, on subsequent reporting, that Apple has already paid Lodsys, but they want money from independent developers, too. That smells like a shakedown: an Apple or Google can afford a legal fight, but many of these small developers would be wiped out by the fees on litigation. We have another word for that in the tech world: patent trolling.
Justin Williams: Lodsys Wants 0.575% of Revenues
Justin Williams reports what some others (especially the all-around good guy James Thomson) haven’t so far. He says Lodsys is seeking 0.575% of revenue on infringement. That doesn’t sound like a lot, and it probably isn’t if you do $1,000 in revenues. But at $1M in hypothetical revenues, which (given overhead, taxes, etc) isn’t a huge amount of money, would result in Lodsys getting $5,750. Which, by the way, is about what I pay for a year in health insurance. (Williams probably pays more, since he runs his own company.)
The Business Case for Apple Taking Care of the Lodsys Problem
Macworld contacted a number of experts for their take on the Lodsys problem. The most interesting one, I think, is what the business case is for Apple to deal with the problem rather than leaving developers to fight it on their own. Several experts say that Apple, either in getting a court to determine that its agreement with Lodsys covers independent developers, or in dealing with the problem financially, would clear the air for developers; and inversely, if they don’t, it could have a profound chilling effect on them. This problem isn’t just going to go away, they note.
Florian Muller of FOSS Patents takes a really, really, really, really detailed look at the curious case of Lodsys and the patent infringement. It’s not legal advice, so if any developers read my Pinboard feed or the ATPM column, don’t just read this and think that you’re in the clear. Get legal advice. But it’s a really good read if you’re wondering, just how is it that a tiny legal-mafiosi company can really shake down independent developers for this much money, well, this is for you.
TidBITS Takes a Look at the Patent Infringement Implied By Lodsys
In the wake of Lodsys’ accusations against independent developers, Adam Engst of TidBITS examines the legal issues at question. It sounds arcane, but it’s surprisingly interesting to examine what they’re accusing developers of doing (versus what actually makes sense).
Craig Hockenberry writes an open letter to Steve Jobs regarding the Lodsys situation. He writes, “In and of itself, paying half of a percent of our App Store sales to Lodsys isn’t going to put us out of business. The fear we have is that this is the first step on a very slippery slope.”
Apple’s legal counsel, Bruce Sewell, responds to Lodsys very firmly; Macworld has the full text. He writes:
Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the Apple App Makers are protected by that license. There is no basis for Lodsys’ infringement allegations against Apple’s App Makers. Apple intends to share this letter and the information set out herein with its App Makers and is fully prepared to defend Apple’s license rights.
Later, he observes that virtually all of Lodsys’s evidence rests on screenshots of Apple’s end of the transactions and that they can’t demonstrate that the APIs are the responsibility of the developer rather than of Apple, who is the licensee. After dismantling a few other claims that Lodsys makes in their letters to developers, he writes, to close things out, “Apple requests that Lodsys immediately withdraw all notice letters sent to Apple App Makers and cease its false assertions.” John Gruber said of this letter, measure twice, cut once.
Lodsys Fires Back at Apple: No, You Didn’t
As this very issue went to press, breaking news from Lodsys: their legal counsel responded, via the corporate blog, that Apple is not “‘indisputably licensed’ with rights that extend to 3rd party Developers.” In fact, the company argues that the two parties are in the midst of “confidential discussions,” and that “developers relying on Apple’s letter do so to their own detriment.” I’m really glad right now that it is not me caught in the crossfire.
The Mac: the Little Platform That Could, Even in 2011
Horace Dediu takes a deeper look at what’s driving the growth of the Mac: while the overall PC sector shrank 3% in the fourth quarter, Apple’s share grew 28%. In spite of this, prices are actually up. Tim Cook posits the “halo” effect, in which the visibility of the iPhone and iPad helps shine light on Apple’s desktop products. But Dediu is skeptical, and although he points out that it’s certainly possible, there’s no way to quantify it. What else is at work? My original theory, from when Apple first started making Windows-compatible iPods, was that the iPod (and now the iPhone and iPad) was a kind of gateway drug. That’s much more readily quantifiable than a purported halo effect, and one I’d like to see research on.
Justin Williams Gets Nostalgic About NetNewsWire
Like me, Justin Williams has been a NetNewsWire user since 2001. It’s been a great ride; but sometimes it’s fun to go back and look at what the past was like. So he took a ride in the time capsule and pulled up screenshots of the earliest versions of NetNewsWire, one of the few Mac applications that has been around all that time and is still actively used and developed. (In fact, I used NetNewsWire to send this link to Pinboard!) Give it a read; it’s fun to look back on the original NNW and what it was then to what it is today. Extra meta points if you read it in NNW.
Why Apple Won’t (at Least Not in 2013) Adopt ARM Chips for Laptops
There’s a rumor going around—pushed, in particular, by a site called Semi Accurate—that Apple is going to switch to ARM CPUs in portable Macs in 2013, like what the iPad and iPhone use. Ars’ Chris Foresman lists a whole hosts of reasons that this is very unlikely to happen. The most obvious of them is that the best performance ARM is offering for 2013 is only in the ballpark of Intel’s performance today. Why would Apple forego performance and battery life gains, just to get the same CPU in two devices that, at least today, have two different codebases? Intel is also, Foresman says, working on an update to the current generation of iX CPUs, Sandy Bridge, that will consume 50% less power than today’s. Due next year. Apple may very well someday make the switch, but likely not in 2013…and I think that stays true as long as they are selling desktops with Intel CPUs. Major application vendors like Adobe may not be willing to go back to compiling for multiple Mac OS X CPU platforms.
Following Up on Apple/ARM Rumor: Might Intel Fabricate ARM Architecture Chips for Apple?
We have a different rumor going around the Internets around the same time that the “Apple ditching Intel” is making the rounds. This one is actually more plausible: Apple might have Intel fabricate its A4 and A5 chips, rather than the company they are engaging in a trade battle with, Samsung. Ars doesn’t see the connection, I guess, but it seems pretty straight-forward that this could be the two rumors going around. We’re pretty sure Apple wouldn’t change the architecture on their iOS devices yet (why would they?) but there’s nothing that says Intel has to make only Intel-designed chips. I’d be a lot less surprised to see this than an Intel iPad/iPhone CPU.
We wrote earlier about how the rumor that Apple might switch from Intel to ARM for its chips in its laptops is probably unlikely. Adam Shah, in Macworld, writes a nice analysis detailing why that’s highly unlikely: the chips are “designed for lower performance and unlikely to match x86 performance in the next few years,” he quotes one analyst; there’s no Thunderbolt support for ARM chips yet, and Apple just introduced it in their portables; ARM doesn’t make 64-bit chips yet; and Apple would have to split their product line between portable CPUs and desktop CPUs, since it would be very difficult for them to switch away from the Intel Xeon and iX chips the desktop Macs use now. As Shah points out, if ARM can deliver the performance, they might do it. But I remain skeptical. Apple’s already made one enormous platform shift in the Mac OS X era, and I don’t see a lot of incentive for another.
Intel Taking Things Up a Notch to Compete With ARM
If you’ve been following the ongoing Apple-ARM-Intel rumors—yes, my head is spinning from all the contradictory information, too—here’s something real. Intel’s CEO is saying that they are going to take things up a notch to compete with ARM, including trying to lower average power consumption and using more advanced manufacturing techniques. Intel knows they’re dead in the consumer market—the trend is clearly away from the Need for Speed—but Intel is in a better long-run position than anyone else with the server space. So the question is, does Intel have what it takes to play both sides of the market?
PC World: Offering OS X Upgrades Only via Mac App Store Could be Apple’s Windows Vista
Ian Paul of PC World saw the news that Apple may provide over-the-air updates for iOS and deliver Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) via the Mac App Store, and he immediately thought of Microsoft’s mostly failed plan to deliver Windows Vista over the Internet rather than via physical media. I agree: the last thing I want is not to be able to reinstall my OS whenever I want. Concerning, to say the least. Paul expects that Apple will allow you to burn your own media, at least for backup/reinstallation purposes. After all: installations fail sometimes.
Amazon’s new Mac Downloads store launched today, with a fascinating twist and a really interesting selection to boot. I’m certainly intrigued: there’s no software component, and although I didn’t try it, no automated add-to-Applications folder-and-Dock functionality. But they make up for that by being everyone’s go-to source for online shopping. Makes me wonder if Apple made a mistake creating a new application rather than leveraging iTunes.
iPad Competitors Still Don’t Measure Up
Galen Gruman of Infoworld reviewed the BlackBerry PlayBook, and he wasn’t afraid to review the device as it is today rather than as many reviewers presume it will be someday. (That includes Josh Topolsky’s review, linked in the May issue.) He was impressed by the interface—“a nice user interface, a clean cross between WebOS’s concept of cards and Mac OS X’s Dock Exposé”—which I admit to also being impressed by in video demos. It’s certainly more intuitive for a longtime computer user, although I suspect the iOS 4 interface is probably better for non-technical users. But the rest of the device is, according to Gruman, a train wreck: the tethering requirement is bad, and worse is that AT&T won’t allow it yet! So it’s just a fancy brick for AT&T customers. Plus:
The PlayBook simply felt as if it debuted before it was ready… Why RIM chose to ship the PlayBook in such a state is unfathomable. The iPad 2 and Xoom have been out for weeks, so there’s no heading them off at the pass.
Mark Sullivan writes in PC World that, as of this moment, what the consumers who comprise the electronics market want isn’t “tablets,” in the generic speak of techies like Sullivan and me and you (since you’re reading this column, dear reader). They are not clamoring for the Galaxy Tab (sales approx. 250K) or the Motorola Xoom (as low as 100K), and so far analysts only expect RIM to sell 500K PlayBook devices by the end of May. No, they’re clamoring for the iPad, of which Tim Cook says Apple has already sold 12 million and expects to sell 40 million in 2011. That isn’t anything like the iPhone, but it’s a big number for a device category that didn’t exist a year ago. Sullivan points out that what Apple has that the other vendors don’t is the mysterious “X factor” of “the pleasing physical design of the iPad, and the simple, intuitive, and pleasing look-and-feel of a user interface.” Given Apple’s lawsuit against Samsung (earlier) it’s hard to imagine that changing any time soon.
So this is a new one: eWeek’s Wayne Rash is arguing that the BlackBerry PlayBook shouldn’t be compared to the iPad because it “wasn’t meant to be an iPad clone,” whatever that means. His argument seems to hinge around the fact that he doesn’t use e-mail on his iPad, and that the BlackBerry was designed to provide a “larger, more useful interface for business applications.” I have no idea what these “business applications” are, but let me concede something first: it’s true that the iPad isn’t a BlackBerry. But, Mr. Rash, the PlayBook isn’t a BlackBerry either: it has to be tethered to a BlackBerry to be of any real use, and the mythical “business applications” are primarily available on the iPad. (If you are aware of a non-custom business application that is available for Android or PlayBook but not the iPad, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll correct this.) So, remind me what the coherent argument here is?
Philip Greenspun got a BlackBerry PlayBook to borrow from a friend of his, on a trip to sunny Orlando, FL. He absolutely hated it. He couldn’t log into the wireless network in his hotel; it can’t be tethered to a BlackBerry for any network connectivity except e-mail; the Web browser was bad and text harder to read than on his Android phone; and the screen is too small to be useful for video playback when it’s on your desk, and too large for video playback in your hand. His overall assessment is that it is “not useful as a computer; too light to serve as a doorstop.” Apparently his friend has not asked for the device back, either. Sounds like a gem, RIM!
Macworld: Lack of Flash for iPad Actually a Good Thing
Peter Smith of IT World—yes, I know IDG staff really crosses over a lot online—writes that the absence of Flash on the iPad is so far a virtue. He uses the example of Flash on Android tablets as the reason why: the performance is bad even on high-powered tablets, and most Flash apps expect a keyboard and mouse. If Flash is the selling point for why you might buy an Android device over an iOS device, he argues, you may want to think again.
How well can an Android tablet replace an iPad for day-to-day use? Justin Williams gives it a try, and the short version is, there are major trade-offs associated with the third-party apps. He points out that there are not yet a lot of tablet-specific or universal Android apps (unlike the iPad), and that hurts the experience. There are a few other things that he notes: the form factor is odd because it locks you into landscape mode; the custom charger is insane; and although there are no hardware buttons, the execution on the software buttons is subpar. This does not sound like a particularly impressive device to me—for a 1.0, anyway. On the other hand, there are some software things that impressed him, like the slick-sounding multitasking tray, and the Android notifications queue. (How many times have you asked yourself, “Who was that text message/Twitter reply/phone call from again?” before you try to dig it up.)
Meanwhile, It’s Subscription-O-Rama in iPad-Land
Hearst Rolling Out iPad Subscriptions for Magazines
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has a deal with Hearst Corp., the magazine publisher, to roll out subscriptions for Esquire, Popular Mechanics, and O, The Oprah Magazine, for $2 a month or $20 a year. (Fair disclosure: I once worked for Popular Mechanics as a summer intern.) Hearst also intends to offer iPad subscriptions to some of their newspaper publications, like the San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Houston Chronicle. It sounds, from the WSJ, that Apple has given Hearst some flexibility on pricing and negotiated some of the terms of distribution. This deal lends some credence to the John Gruber school of thought on subscriptions, that print publishers aren’t balking so much at Apple’s 30% cut as they are at giving up control of subscriber information. If Apple will make a deal with Hearst, they might do so with other print publishers, and we’ll have that happy media utopia many expected when the iPad first rolled out.
Why Publishers Are Suddenly Cutting Deals With Apple to Be on the iPad
Jeff Bercovici, writing in Forbes, hits on the reason that publishers are rather suddenly embracing the iPad and Apple’s requirement for opting in on subscriber information. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s ever subscribed to an American magazine that you give up a lot of privacy, in exchange for cheaper magazines than you find in Europe and Australia; seems they were concerned that too many readers would opt out. But it seems that 50% of subscribers opt in, based on Apple’s data. Not such a big hurdle anymore.
Apple Continuing to Win Over Big Publishers for iPad, Gets Condé Nast
Apple is continuing to win over big publishers to their subscription bandwagon. The latest catch: Condé Nast, which is going to bring over The New Yorker. You can now subscribe for $6 a month to The New Yorker, as opposed to the previous, non-subscription model of $5 per issue, and an annual subscription to the digital edition of $60. Wouldn’t that be something: a revenue stream for magazines and newspapers that could help replace lost print subscription revenue. So far, the Apple strategy has focused on magazines because the tools for something updated continuously like newspapers aren’t there yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a deal with one of the big tech-savvy newspaper publishers like Gannett or McClatchy either.
Checking in on the Rest of the Mobile Space
Horace Dediu: A New Era Is Only a New State of Mind
Horace Dediu reprinted some of an interview he did with a Brazilian trade magazine. It’s the best encapsulation of the idea that there’s a “post-PC” era underfoot that I have read. I quoted Dediu last month with his explanation of what that means, which, to be more specific, is that each computing paradigm shift in the last half-century has left the previous infrastructure in place. (We still have mainframe servers, for instance.) Following up on that is his definition of what the “post-PC” era means, and it harkens back to a Bloggable I wrote in 2006 about the future of iPod Nation. Dediu’s definition of the post-PC paradigm:
Tablets and smartphones allow “computing” to be done in previously non-consuming contexts… Like the transistor radio allowed teenagers to listen to rock-and-roll out of hearing range of their parents who had control over the family stereo, a truly personal computer will allow people to “escape” into a world of more intimate consumption and communication.
Late in April, Apple announced that they were suing Samsung for violating a variety of intellectual property, most notably in the look and feel of Samsung’s TouchWiz interface, which Apple describes as “appear(ing) to be actual Apple products.” I’ve got some links (coming later) showing just how similar they are, and it really is remarkable. Of course, as a non-IP lawyer, I look at that and simply think that Samsung is taking a cue from Apple, but that’s why companies have IP lawyers. Nilay Patel—also at This is my next—has a fantastic and extremely detailed analysis of the suit, which takes each claim of IP infringement one by one and analyzes exactly where Apple and Samsung stand on the case. I didn’t realize that some of the claims were based on actual, registered patents, which seem like a slam dunk, as opposed to trade dress claims. (It also makes you wonder if anyone’s ever sued Microsoft for a packaging-related trade dress claim!)
Justin Williams suggests that manufacturers “focus less on hardware specs or openness of their platform, and more on getting software updates to the existing user base on a regular basis,” if they want to make a dent in Apple’s lead in the mobile consumer space. This is a good point: Microsoft still hasn’t released any worthwhile updates to Windows Phone 7; Google can’t get its ducks in a row to push out updates to every device that is capable of running the newest OS; and RIM just released a device which has to be tethered to a phone for functionality my Dell Axim had in 2005. It’s astounding to me. The only ones who appear to get it are Google, who tightened the reins on Android’s Honeycomb release. Microsoft and RIM are way behind the curve.
Google Blocks Tethering App to Make Carriers Happy, Possibly Violating 700MHz “Open Access” Stipulation
We all know that Google’s been doing some strange things ever since they got into the mobile OS business and proclaiming their platform’s “openness,” like withholding the Android 3.0 Honeycomb source code. But this might take the cake: Chris Ziegler at This is my next reports that Google is blocking tethering apps at Verizon’s request, because Verizon wants you to tether using their mechanism and pay for it. Normally I’d say “Eh,” and move on, but as Ziegler points out, this is LTE data, and LTE data is on the 700MHz band that carries an “open access” provision from the FCC…which Google is responsible for! They bid $4.6 billion just to make sure the “open access” provision kicked in. And it sounds like Google may now be in violation of those provisions, if not the letter than at least the spirit. (Verizon is probably off the hook, because for the carriers the FCC is mainly concerned about the network level.)
How Microsoft Built Its Excellent Soft Keyboard for Windows Phone 7
A great article from Microsoft Research on what they did to build a better soft keyboard for Windows Phone 7. (Note: If you ever used the soft keyboard on Windows Mobile 6, you know why it needed improvement!) They first explored the implications of the different ways people type—some use one thumb or one forefinger, some two, etc.—and then crowdsourced a whole slew of data using a game called Text Text Revolution! It gives them statistical data that allows them to analyze where the fingers were and what the touch point that was intended was, and then, lastly, uses the same kind of analysis that the iPhone does to expand the touch area around the key that it thinks the user wants to hit next. There’s a really, really impressive image showing the typing patterns of one Text Text Revolution! user. Whatever you’ll say about Microsoft, it’s been clear, really since the end of the antitrust suit, that they’re committed to R&D.
Microsoft, Unhappy With Windows Phone 7 Development Efforts, Tries Luring iOS Devs
Microsoft is reportedly unhappy with the developer interest they’re seeing in their Windows Phone 7 platform, so they’re trying an interesting tactic: luring iOS developers. Unlike past attempts, when MS basically paid off developers, this time they’re encouraging them to port their apps over, with a guide aimed at helping iOS developers translate their work to their platform. It sounds like they’re just biding their time until they make some inroads on platform gains, but I’ll be curious to see what comes of it. Strikes me that one likely scenario is that the app ecosystem becomes, like Android or the Mac itself, most of the biggest-name apps are crossovers from the iOS market, and the rest is mainly free stuff and things that, by definition, you can’t do on an iPhone. That’s a pretty easy encapsulation of the Android application market today!
The “Great Ephemeralization” of National Economic Statistics
Timothy B. Lee (note: not Tim Berners-Lee), an economics writer and Ph.D. candidate in computer science, takes a broad look at technology innovation and national statistics, and the way that GDP itself is computed. He points out that, because GDP doesn’t measure, for instance, the way that software innovations silently increase productivity; it’s designed to measure “discrete physical objects with a fixed feature set.” He cites the most fascinating example of how technology can make users wealthier in reality, while actually decreasing GDP:
[A] couple of years ago, Google waved a magic wand that transformed millions of Android phones into sophisticated navigation devices with turn-by-turn directions. This was functionality that people had previously paid hundreds of dollars for in stand-alone devices. Now it’s just another feature that comes with every Android phone, and the cost of Android phones hasn’t gone up.
Horace Dediu on What Metric to Measure the iPhone’s Progress
What does being “dead in the water” mean? Henry Blodget, he of the never-ending Mac trolling, recently wrote that the iPhone was “dead in the water.” Horace Dediu takes a look at what that really means: the iPhone continued to grow its share of phones, contrary to Blodget’s remarks, which shows a trend line that has flattened from where it was in 2008, but is hardly flat. Dediu figures out where Blodget was going with this and explains that he’s saying that the iPhone’s share of mobile phone platforms in the US has flattened out, which is not an entirely accurate statement. (For instance: whither the iPod touch and iPad? They’re both iOS devices too, and use the same apps.) Very interesting.
iPhone 3GS Selling More Units Than Newer Android Phones
Found this an interesting tidbit: the new, high-end Android phones like the HTC Inspire and Motorola Atrix are being outsold by the iPhone 3GS. There’s not really a direct comparison—what’s helping the Android platform succeed is those el-cheapo Android phones, not the high-end models—but AT&T is still selling the 3GS, and for $49. The 3GS may not be a new device, but it runs the current version of the OS and is certainly a lot higher-end than its competitors in that price range.
Other Odds and Ends
Adam Lisagor asks what is a pretty good question: why would Apple build a TV at all? The only difference between a HDTV and an Apple HDTV would be the absence of any non-Apple TV watching formats, like an HDMI input or an RF tuner. None of us can know what the Big A will do, but Lisagor’s description of the incentive for Apple to make an Apple television set at all—the “why”—is encapsulated neatly: “Access to content to supplant the cable TV experience—that’s the end goal. And to really reach that end goal, Apple has to forcibly yank out all that cable.”
Jason Snell Finds the Eye-Fi More Useful Now That It Connects to Your iPhone
The Eye-Fi may sound like it’s a companion to your iPhone, but until April, there was no way to connect the two together. (I often marveled at this, like when I go to a space shuttle launch and have to use my iPhone to get photos on Twitter…and then drive all the way back to Orlando to post the photos from my Nikon DSLR!) Jason Snell points out that in April, Eye-Fi introduced a feature called “Direct Mode” for their X2 cards that turns the card itself into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot. That way, you can connect the iPhone to the Eye-Fi and transmit photos from your camera into the Eye-Fi app and, from there, into the iPhone’s Camera Roll. Presto!
Matthew Lynley played with the Big G’s new cloud-based music management system, in which you store all your music n the ether and it is magically played back to you through a dreadfully crappy interface. If you ask me, it might be better to store your music in Dropbox…and Lynley makes that point. The software sounds particularly bad, and, lacking any Genius/Pandora style features to find other music you might like, it’s a very 2007 solution to the question, how do I store my music somewhere I can access it without my phone? Then again: imagine that.
Macworld Takes a More Generous Look at Google Music Beta
Although MobileBeat panned Google’s Music Beta, the guys at Macworld gave it a try and were a little more impressed. Its Android support makes it sound like iTunes; and it sounds from the review like there’s a lot of iTunes going on here. But they point out that this is still a “passive” model for cloud storage of music, in which you upload your music and it plays back over the network, as opposed to what they call the “active” model, where you upload the database of music (rather than the actual, physical files) that you have and then you stream the copies. In the end, they call Google’s offering “a reheated version of iTunes, configured for the cloud.”
Here’s the proverbial $26,000 question: will Thunderbolt turn out to be Apple’s USB—an early move that turned out to be a wild success—or like FireWire, now basically relegated to videographers and Mac users? PC World reports that HP considered Thunderbolt for their future hardware but is opting for USB 3.0 because of “wider support.” Remains to be seen which one Thunderbolt will turn out to be.
How Independent Apple Retailers Live With the Apple Store
If you’ve been a Mac user for longer than the decade that the Apple Store has been around, you remember vividly the experience of buying a Mac. It was much more, shall we say, cultish; where the Apple Store is the Saks Fifth Avenue of retail, some independent retailers were great but intensely techie (the Mac Store in Portland, OR) and others were just inadequate (Nabih’s of Evanston, IL). But the Apple Store has virtually captured all consumer attention. How are independent resellers doing it? Service, for one; better stock of accessories; and all the other little things Apple won’t or can’t stock because they’re, you know, the corporate flagship.
Ben Horowitz Takes a Victory Lap on Microsoft Buying Skype
Ben Horowitz, who partnered with Marc Andreessen, takes a victory lap on his blog after Microsoft announced they were buying Skype. It’s true that many people (including yours truly) were skeptical at the time that they bought Skype from eBay in 2009, after eBay’s disastrous acquisition. Although they seem to have rescued a successful company that had lost its way, I can’t fathom what conceivable use Microsoft has for Skype, other than as a cash cow (and even then they would be a drop in the Redmond bucket). But I suppose you never know.