In a move to monetize its $8.5 billion dollar purchase of Skype, Microsoft executives have confirmed to The Daily Currant that it will be the splitting the popular video-chat software into 14 separate versions.
As it seeks to expand beyond its core Windows segment, the Redmond, WA based software behemoth will apply its tried-and-true strategy of releasing crippled versions of its products and forcing users to pay for an upgrade.
In an exclusive interview Microsoft CEO and management savant Steve Ballmer explained his firm’s new strategy, which will also include transitioning from a freemium model to one where even features such as Skype-to-Skype chat will require a paid subscription:
“This is a business, not a charity. We didn’t buy Skype so that we could live-stream Burning Man and sing Kumbaya to each other on video chat. We bought Skype to make dollars. And this is the best way to do it.”
The new Skype versions will range from a basic series of products with command-line interfaces, to the advanced GUI models with the color video chat we know today.
A leaked product breakdown reveals the expected lineup:
Skype Basic – Skype Ultra Basic – Skype Premium Basic
Chic command line MS-DOS inspired interfaces with text-chat capabilities only. Free.
Skype Home – Skype Home Entertainment – Skype Home Office
A GUI and video-chat capabilities. No audio. Free.
Skype Home Business – Skype Small Business – Skype Self-Employed
A GUI and audio calling capabilities. Self-employed version can launch from Excel. $20 to download plus $5 a month.
Skype Enterprise Basic – Skype Enterprise Premium
Audio calling, text chat, and black-and-white video chat. $50 plus $10 a month.
Skype Ultra Basic – Skype Ultra Premium
Audio, video, and text chatting plus extra features such as color video, audio/video syncing, and volume control. $100 plus $20 a month.
Skype Premium Premium
The current version of Skype, which will now cost $150, plus $30 a month plus usage charges for SkypeOut.
Although some tech commentators are outraged at the steep pricing structure, Ballmer explains that it’s inspired by the world’s most valuable company:
“You don’t see Apple giving away products for free do you? No. Apple charges full price for its stuff. We see this as the Steve Jobs approach to Skype.”
The new versions are set to be released in January 2014.