It is being reported by numerous sources that Microsoft has acquired Yammer, the social networking service that exclusively caters to business users. While there is still a lot of speculation at this point, it is believed that the software giant acquired the company behind the service for more than $1 billion. Microsoft has not announced what it plans to do with Yammer, but here’s what the acquisition could mean for users.
Seamless social connection
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn may have made it look relatively easy, but succeeding in the social media space is hard work. This is something Google initially found out with the failed Buzz, and something it is still learning with Google+. Instead of building a social network from the ground up, Microsoft went out and purchased one that was already established. Though not on the level of Facebook or even newcomers like Pinterest, Yammer has done quite well for itself, attracting more than 200,000 companies worldwide in its four years of existence. The fact that the service is already established will likely mean a seamless connection that benefits users from both sides.
Like I mentioned in the intro, nothing is official in the way of what Microsoft has in store for Yammer, but integration with its existing line of products seems like a no-brainer. After all, it does appear to be a natural fit. Just imagine Yammer functionality incorporated into applications like SharePoint, Outlook, or even SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud-based storage service. There are several options of course, but no matter what is decided on, the communication and collaboration aspects of the social network would instantly make those products more powerful and valuable to the user.
Greater reach to target audiences
Yammer has been praised for its business model. The social network operates on a freemium basis, offering a basic service at no cost, in addition to a premium service that is available for $5 per month. This model has enabled the service to enjoy steady growth, while at the same time, provide the visibility and reach businesses look for in an enterprise social media product. Being snatched up by a primetime player like Microsoft could be like a dream come true for Yammer users. Not only does the network instantly receive greater distribution through Windows, hailed by many as the world’s most extensive enterprise platform, users will have the opportunity to greatly extend their reach via the Windows ecosystem as well.
When it comes to acquisitions, there is always a certain degree of risk involved, and this is a factor Microsoft knows all too well. Having said that, this looks to be deal that will work out for both parties. But if Microsoft plays its cards right, it will be the users who are declared the real winners. And isn’t that how it should be?