Microsoft finally taking back Skype in China

Well, this is going to be a brain twist to many. Although the title for this article might look like nonsense, it is true: Microsoft, who had acquired Skype quite some time ago, the company doesn't have any ownership rights over the VoIP software in China, at least until quite recently.

The matter is quite complicated. Long story short: China has some big problems against VoIP technology in general. First, the tech enables basically everyone to operate a virtual telephone service over the internet, making service/content censorship impossible. Second, uncontrolled prosperity of VoIP services will inevitably impact the business and profit of Chinese telecommunication carriers, all three of whom are state-owned enterprises. Especially if it is utilized by "evil foreign anti-China forces", there will be an impending disaster, or so the government believes.

As one of the first popular VoIP services, Skype got into the Chinese market without much problem. There is one catch though: the service must be run (fully or partially) by a trusted Chinese company. Therefore, Skype came into a joint venture with TOM, a Hong Kong based internet service provider which is also well established in China. So, in the Chinese market, the ownership over Skype's intellectual property is a joint venture. It cannot be sold to Microsoft without involving TOM.

Due to said reason, the Chinese market is left largely untouched. Users were given notification that Live Messenger will continue to exist for one extra year in China, giving Microsoft more time to seal the acquisition deal. Now the time has come. The TOM-Skype home page has put up a huge banner, telling people Microsoft has taken over the service on November 24, 2013.

Due to the same political reason, Microsoft will be running Skype in China through a joint venture company as well. It consists of:

  • Microsoft: You know who this is.
  • Founder: A Chinese IT company, providing the much needed Chinese identity and legal qualification.
  • Guang Ming Daily: A government-owned newspaper, supposedly contributing even more Chinese identity, plus a large dose of political correctness.

A new Skype official site has already gone live. This time it's hosted by Guang Ming Daily. It's worth a mention that the three-way joint venture wasn't proposed by Microsoft. A joint venture already exists between Guang Ming Daily and Founder. Microsoft just decided to join the game.

And that enables Microsoft to catch up with Skype/Messenger/Windows 8 integration within this particular market.

Source: WPDang (1) (2)

  • Mind=Blown
  • Same here
  • So in the end the Chinese Government still controls it.
  • Eh, China...
  • So if I was to Skype someone and video chat them about how political and social oppression sucks in china and people really aren't free (except for a few economic zones, mainly capitalistic cities in the east), would my words be censored to someone I'm video chatting to inside china? I don't understand.
  • To you? Probably not. But the person to whom you talked could be in trouble.
  • Agreed. You'd better not doing it since it can jeopardize the other party (if he/she is Chinese citizen).
  • "To you? Probably not. But the person to whom you talked could be in trouble." Absolutely correct. They'd likely be woken up in the middle of the night by a knock on the door from the NSA.
  • They can listen in.
  • So it is like the NSA, but they are saying they are doing it.
  • LoL. Pretty much.
  • Pretty much that
  • Haha, good one.
  • Yes, pretty much. But also much more because there are also business vested interests involved.
  • No. It's impossible to spy on every video chat. They would probably censor text chat first and if you are found chatting unacceptable stuff they might start spying on you. But I believe their main objective is to protect the profitability of those state-owned telecom companies.
  • I sent this tip hours ago... Guess that don't matter #pouts
  • There, there, dear. Out of the millions of WPCentral readers, I'm sure you were the only one to have submitted this tip, and the editors simply forgot to include acknowledgement to you. :)
  • Oy vey...
  • That is stupid in China.