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Skype wants to text you up

Here's a question for you. What's the next big trend in social networking?

Photo sharing? Music sharing? Google+?

According to a surprisingly large number of in-the-know Silicon Valley folk, it's: group text messaging.

We know, this seems weird. After all, Twitter started as a group text messaging service, before morphing into a terrifying online public recreation of all the world's ephemeral chatter. And SMS, in general, is seen as being on the way out, to be replaced by services like BlackBerry Messenger and Apple's iMessage.

But group text messaging still has the potential to be useful, and therefore profitable, and in the bubblish atmosphere of Silicon Valley right now, that's enough to make you the subject of massive hype. So group messaging service GroupMe, widely considered the best of the bunch, has been attracting a lot of attention. The tech blog Gizmodo raved about the service a few months ago:

'The meat of GroupMe goes down right in your regular old messaging app,' they explained. 'When you start, you and your friends get a unique group phone number—all texts are routed through those digits, with the name of the person who sent each message attached at the front. Call the number up and you initiate a conference call with everyone in the group. There's really not much to it! But the simplest solutions are usually the greatest ones.' At the CES conference, they said, 'It was utterly indispensable.'

Praise indeed - and it clearly got someone's attention. For GroupMe has just been acquired by internet telephony giant Skype. It's likely their services will be rebranded under the Skype umbrella soon.

Considering Microsoft paid $5 billion for Skype a few weeks ago, the $80 million price paid for GroupMe isn't exactly a transformative investment. But for Skype users, it means potentially useful new features, and that can't be a bad thing.

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