Skype buys GroupMe to take on Google+ huddles

Skype adds mobile group chat to its repertoire and challenges the Huddles feature of the Google+ mobile app.

Skype announced that it is acquiring GroupMe for an undisclosed sum. Acquiring the young mobile group messaging service expands Skype's arsenal of communication tools and gives Skype (and by extension Microsoft once the purchase of Skype is complete) tools to compete with the Huddle feature of the Google+ mobile app.

Skype has established itself as a leading Internet-based voice over IP (VoIP) provider around the world. Skype also delivers video conferencing and instant messaging, and has focused recently on bringing those tools and capabilities to mobile platforms like iOS and Android. Now, with GroupMe, Skype can add group chat sessions to the mix.

In an online press release, Skype explains, "The acquisition of GroupMe complements Skype's leadership in voice and video communications by providing best in class text-based communications and innovative features that enable users to connect, share locations and photos and make plans with their closest ties."

Google's nascent social network, Google+, offers a similar feature in its mobile app with Huddles. A Google+ Huddle lets you set up a sort of mobile chat room with a Circle or Circles (the term Google+ uses for segregating contacts into different groups), or by just adding specific individuals to the Huddle. A group of friends trying to sync up and make plans for the evening, or a project team trying to collaborate on a task deadline can benefit from the ability to instant message each other as a group.

Skype has an advantage over Google+ Huddles. Huddles require participants to be a part of the Google+ social network. Right now, Google+ is still in a limited "Field Trial" that is invitation-only, but even when the service becomes available to the public there will be many who will choose not to jump onboard.

Granted, to use Skype mobile group chat users will have to use Skype, but that is users are more likely to join a messaging service than another social network, and Skype already has an audience of 175 million. Combine that with the integration Skype has with Facebook messaging, and the possibilities that could result from combining Skype and GroupMe with other Microsoft tools and products, and you have a powerful mobile communication and collaboration platform.

There is one limitation, which seems to be a handicap for both GroupMe and Huddles--the service only works on mobile devices. It is nice to be able to have group chat sessions from an iPhone or Windows Phone 7 smartphone, but what if some members that need to participate in the group chat are sitting at their PC? There should be integration with the desktop tools (be it Skype or Google+) that enables group chat across all platforms.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftsmartphonesGoogleskypeinstant messagingconsumer electronicsInternet-based applications and servicesCell PhonesGoogle Plus

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?