It looks like Microsoft is giving the 'Amazon-treatment' to its video service Skype, based on a look at alternative data.
At first glance, it's impressive that Skype for Business - a separate service for growing companies that Microsoft's ($MSFT) Skype operates from its flagship platform - has tacked on nearly 20,000 new reviews in 2020, and notably, a 12% increase in reviews submitted since mid-March.
But a look at the way it's growing its Teams product shows that, nearly 10 years after acquiring Skype, Microsoft's focus for enterprise clients is getting them onto its company-branded platform, instead. Marketing materials for its suite of video services makes clear that Skype Business is only for the smallest of small businesses, and that Microsoft is geared toward pushing enterprises onto its Teams system, instead.
In the time since most US states began shelter-in-place procedures aimed at curbing the pandemic's spread, Microsoft Teams has added hundreds of thousands of new reviews, based on our tracking of ratings submitted to the Apple ($AAPL) Store, shown above.
It's another sign that Microsoft is moving away from the once-dominant brand in video and web-chatting (the same way people once used to 'Seamless' their dinners, before being bombarded by a plethora of other options), and trying to drive users more toward the corporate-branded platform. And, it comes as major corporate clients are beginning to guide rank-and-file workers from using communications tools to chat and videoconference that they feel do not have adequate security standards. Coronavirus has created a generational opportunity for remote collaboration software, and all of a sudden, major corporate players are able to establish an advantage thanks to their size, security, and reputations.
It isn't uncommon for a company to eventually downshift a M&A deal, once its brand has been integrated and customers won-over by new service reps. Amazon, more than a year ago, drastically cut back on hiring at its billion-dollar shoe-selling acquisition, Zappos, something for which the company is known to do, as it successfully puts its own imprint on deals post-M&A, and eventually scales the corporate brand up with new users.
And, in our final data point, consumers' engagement with Skype via Facebook ($FB) is at or near a low, despite getting a bit of a bump earlier this year. For Skype - at a time like this, when other video chat competitors are seeing a surge in social media chatter around their products - this factor could be the most troubling.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.