AAPL) and Google ( GOOG), I also realized that it could have been a decision made out of sheer desperation -- one urged by its need to spend cash at the behest of investors to help invigorate a languishing stock price. Plus it didn't help that it had recently been rebuffed by Yahoo! ( YHOO) on its acquisitions offers. The company was anxious to close a deal -- any deal. Here we are over a year later and I'm still waiting for Microsoft to reveal its line of attack as it relates to Skype in a video conferencing market that is dominated by Cisco ( CSCO) and the aforementioned Google. Is there cause for concern? I raise this question because last week investors learned Microsoft had absorbed a write-down estimated at $6.3 billion dollars for its acquisition of aQuantive five years ago, a move that was supposed to help spur its efforts to get into the online advertising market. Remarkably, investors appeared to not have cared to the extent that the stock even managed a small gain at session's close. In its announcement in which Microsoft admitted the acquisition was a mistake, the company said that "while aQuantive continues to provide tools for Microsoft's online advertising efforts, the acquisition did not accelerate growth to the degree anticipated" -- which lead to the write-down. As embarrassing as this confession may have been for Microsoft, I think the company deserves a considerable amount of credit for opting to cut its losses and moving on. More noteworthy was that it also admitted that the acquisition was a mistake, something that Research in Motion ( RIMM) has been unwilling to do. Having said that, it does serve to open up more speculation about some other possibilities. As I've noted above in regards to Skype, the company still has yet to disclose its intentions. Now, on the heels of this aQuantive write-down, I can't help but speculate if Skype will prove to be another "money-for-nothing" type of a situation. It was a deal that brought a lot of promise to a company that was battling competitive issues. With Skype's voice and video sharing capabilities I expected it to have (by now) provided Microsoft with a drastic injection in the enterprise collaboration space. But we're still waiting. Is Skype another write-down waiting to happen?
The other question is whether it is possible that Microsoft, which just spent $1.2 billion to acquire Yammer, just wanted to put this aQuantive failure behind it in a manner to position itself for possible future deals? After all, it is hard to envision an outlook where there is an overhang such as a failed past. In Yammer, it acquired a company that considers itself as the Facebook ( FB) for corporations where its so-called "in-company" social network allows workers to form groups and interact freely with each other. Furthermore, while having only been in business for only four years, it has already amassed five million users on its subscription based model, quite an impressive feat. Microsoft, which already owns a stake in Facebook, has been looking to fill this "social void" for quite some time. Its SharePoint application was once touted as a Yammer-like idea, although it never fully took off. Furthermore, the company has been struggling to find a way to make its suite of Office programs more interactive to fend off threats from Google's free apps service. It's possible that in Yammer it has found a way to do that. As with aQuantive, the question is, does Microsoft have the management in place to generate a return on this investment or will this prove to be another example of "money for nothing?" While it has some time to answer this question, Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry was quick to point out recently that the company may be making a mistake with Yammer by saying, "We do think Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer is too expensive, too late and will likely have the same outcome as aQuantive." Only time will tell on whether or not Chowdhry was right. But how much time are investors now willing to give the company? Because not only have investors waited five years only to be told that aQuantive was a mistake, but Microsoft is now into its second year of its Skype acquisition and has yet there to show signs of a return on that $8.5 billion investment. Bottom Line I have been a huge supporter of the idea that Microsoft should make a bid to acquire Research In Motion. Though I have not changed my mind entirely, I have started to grow less enamored with the idea since learning of the aQuantive write-off. I am now questioning whether or not Microsoft has the management structure in place to realize the synergies within these deals. It is hard enough to compete with Apple and Google while making good decisions. Research in Motion is learning the effects of poor ones. While Microsoft may go unscathed this time around as having felt no material effect from the standpoint of its stock price, it can't continue to shoot blanks and think it can get away with it - not in a sharp shooting contest where Apple has proven that it can't miss. At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL and held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage. Follow @rsaintvilus