Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Morning Brief: Microsoft buys Skype; Al Jazeera English, Monster launch Android mobile apps; Google to go ahead with digital music service despite lack of content contracts

The planned Skype IPO appears to be not happening. Word today is that Microsoft is buying Skype for $8.5 billion. This is the second time Skype has sold itself off to a large tech firm. In 2005 the company was sold to eBay for $2.6 billion, though that didn't work out so well.

Such is the life of VC backed firms. (TechCrunch says that Microsoft is paying $4.5 billion more than the bid from Google. If true, it would be a major black eye for the M&A folk behind this deal.)

Most media apps may launch initially for Apple's iOS platform but eventually move on to the Android platform as a way of extending the reach of the brand. Two more Android app launches today include Android apps from Monster.com and Al Jazeera English. Monster's Android app has actually been out for a while, though the company has just now released a press release. Al Jazeera's app for their English service is new, however, and joins their app for their Arabic services in the Android Market.

But as with most media apps for Android, the screenshots show that both apps are still geared towards mobile users, as opposed to the new Android tablets.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Google will unveil plans for its digital music service today at its I/O conference in San Francisco. The service, dubbed Music Beta, is a cloud storage service along the lines of the recently launched Cloud Drive, Amazon.com's cloud service.

The new cloud service from Google will be available first on an invitation only basis, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The service will be limited to 20,000 songs and will be free in its beta form.

Word is that the service is Flash driven: that means no iOS users will be able to use the service. Nice move.

Another week, another layoff announcement at a McClatchy newspaper. This one involves the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky. The paper announced yesterday that it will cut 15 positions. Revenue declines are again blamed.

For some media companies, layoff notices are usually accompanied by news of some new initiatives, generally concerning digital, that the company says will turn around the situation. Not so for McClatchy, which appears determined to downsize themselves into the future.

Last week McClatchy announced 20 job cuts at its paper in Raleigh, North Caolina, the News & Observer. They followed that up with 26 job cuts at the Charlotte Observer.