Skype officially announced today that they are going to acquireÂ GroupMe, a service that lets you create private messaging groups right from your phone & send unlimited text messages throughout the group for free. GroupMe was founded just over a year ago by Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci in NewYork. According toÂ Skype CEOÂ Tony Bates, they have been in talks with GroupMe every since Microsoft has been looking to acquire Skype itself, a transaction worth US$8.5 billion which is still pending according to Skype CEO. He also said that they intend to keep GroupMe as “a standalone brand” for now and might look for integration points in future.
Tony Bates said:
Skype and GroupMe have a shared vision of creating applications and experiences that are the daily communications choice for a billion people. We will continue to seek the top talent and technology to make that vision a reality.The GroupMe team has created an incredibly sticky group messaging experience that works across mobile devices and platforms, making this a perfect addition to the voice, video and text products in the Skype family.
Regarding how smart a move this is by Skype, depends on a certain key factors. First of all, Skype’s mobile apps e.g the one for iOS is truly horrible in my opinion. For starters, you need to always manually sign-in and keep the application running in the background to be able to receive Skype incoming calls from your contacts. Duh! do Skype’s app developers even how iOS multitasking and push notifications work? Secondly, the in-app text messaging is the worst you could get in any iOS application with poor contacts refresh times and some nagging on-screen chat alerts.Â Looking at these shortcomings, Skype could actually turn this acquisition into a positive step. They could re-brand GroupMe into something like Facebook Messenger while keeping native app exclusive to voice calling. Or otherwise, they could merge the two applications into one and adapt the much better UI and push notification system from GroupMe.
Nonetheless, the acquisition will go on and shall be completed in the next few weeks at a cost not disclosed at the moment. As to what good actually comes out at the end of all this for an everyday Skype user, especially on mobile platforms, only time will tell. Don’t you guys agree?