Tuesday, 30 April 2013

HMV and Xtra-Vision. Who's next? Skype announces a cracking idea from Monday with Microsoft's outlook.com. So could it be telephony?

Given recent collapses of HMV and in Ireland this week, the Xtra-vision chain which went into receivership (like a 'Blockbuster' chain of retail DVD rental), it's clear that online played a major part in their demise.

Video and music downloads (legal in the main) through the likes of ITunes and Netflix which is surging ahead, meant that traditional retail DVD/Album sales went into spiralling decline. The point however should be made, that brands like HMV and Xtra-vision should have got into the online space but didn't.

They were, at one time, the dominant brands with the power to win online. Anyway.

One now has to ask, what's the next category or market segment that's now faced with the same challenges? And it's telephony.

Apart from "ordinary" threats of email, tweeting, texting and messaging which avoids the need for a quick (costly) telephone call, mobile operators continue to compete on price to woo subscribers. That in itself, is reducing margins and profitability.

It's a death spiral.

But apart from that, online operators are starting to each their lunch - exactly what happened in music and video.

Skype, the best known player (but there's hundreds) have just announced a roll-out of audio and video calling, with outlook.com in the UK from Monday and then the US and Germany this month.

All you need do is download a plug-in and login with your Microsoft account and you're integrated into the Microsoft email service. So that call, has just got a lot easier - it's part of your email. Merging the accounts will automatically merge contacts so connecting with friends will be easy as well.

It's phone calls at your fingertips.

Skype is part of Microsoft so furthering usage will also be pretty easy for Microsoft as Skype replaces their 'instant messenger' service. It previously partnered with ComCast bringing Skype to HDTV sets and Skype generates about 130 billion minutes of call a quarter - growing by 30%+. Microsoft also of course know mobile telephony with android phones.

It's hard to see the big global mobile brands compete with this and especially when we've seen so little sign of it to date. Perhaps they have had it too good for too long? like HMV and Xtra-Vision?

Unthinkable? Nope.