Microsoft has reached a deal to purchase the Yammer business software company for US$1 billion in an apparent bid to shore up its widely used Office software, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
The Journal said it was unclear when the acquisition would be completed, and neither Microsoft nor Yammer could immediately be reached for comment.
Yammer, known as the Facebook of the workplace, creates private social networks inside companies that allow for file-sharing and other applications, and is thus a potential threat to Microsoft’s business software dominance.
If the deal is completed, it would be the second time in a little over a year that Microsoft buys up a younger company on its way to an initial public offering, the Journal said.
In May last year, Microsoft purchased Internet voice and video leader Skype for US$8.5 billion — its largest purchase ever — in a move aimed at boosting its presence in an online arena dominated by Google and Facebook.
Skype announced late last month that it hopes to quadruple its number of users to 1 billion, through mobile customers and partnerships with Facebook and other firms.
In other news, Microsoft on Thursday unveiled ads for its popular Xbox Live online entertainment service that combine the interactivity of the Internet with old-school television viewing.
The technology colossus behind Xbox 360 videogame consoles said that Toyota, Unilever, and Samsung Mobile USA are developing campaigns tailored for “NUads” that will be rolled out at Xbox Live in three months or so.
“NUads marks the beginning of a new era for TV advertising,” Xbox Live entertainment and advertising general manager Ross Honey said. “It delivers the one thing traditional TV advertising is missing — engagement.”
Viewers of NUads can provide feedback, such as taking surveys or answering questions, using button-and-toggle controllers or motion or voice control capabilities of Kinect accessories for Xbox 360 consoles.
Advertisers get the potentially insightful data, plus generalized demographic information about respondents.
“We developed NUads to breathe new life into the standard 30-second spot,” Honey said. “With NUads, brands can get real-time feedback from audiences, making TV advertising actionable for the first time.”
Microsoft expected to charge premium prices for the Internet age television ads. Global revenue from television advertising this year will top US$187 billion and climb in the years ahead, according to market trackers.
Microsoft this month stepped up its quest to be at the heart of home entertainment by syncing Xbox 360 consoles to smartphones and tablets while adding more blockbuster content.