So this happened: TOM, Microsoft’s partner in China, announced that Microsoft would be taking over the Skype business in full very soon. It was also revealed that the popular VoIP platform passed the impressive milestone of 100 million users in the country.
The government in the country requires some products to be made locally available in collaboration via Chinese companies, and TOM-Skype is the joint venture in question that is ending later this month.
Microsoft, however, has just released its own statement, confirming that it will not be taking full ownership of Skype in China, and would continue offering the service to Chinese users via another joint venture in order to comply with local regulations:
“Skype is committed to providing users with the best experience possible and confirm that the cooperation with TOM Online will end. We would like to thank them for their partnership and support over the years.”
Redmond also refuted TOM’s statement that it has 100 million users in China, while explaining that it does not disclose specific figures for countries:
“TOM erroneously overstated the number of connected users we have in China. We have more than 300 million connected users around the world and do not disclose country-specific figures. In China, Skype software is made available through a joint venture to comply with established procedures to meet obligations under local laws. We look forward to sharing news of the new joint venture soon.”
No word yet on the new company Microsoft would be partnering with to continue offering the Skype service in China, but it is worth noting that TOM-Skype has often been criticized for lack of transparency.
For this reason, Microsoft has had to deal with accusations regarding censorship and wiretapping, and Chinese users have slated the technology titan for being part of a nationwide campaign to track conversations and sharing data with local government.