July 7, 2011

Facebook gets Skype video chat

TECHNOLOGY - Facebook is now offering Skype-based video chat to all Facebook members, something which will no doubt primarily be used by young people who have already embraced new technology like VOIP, Google Video Chat, Google Phone and similar video / phone functions.

For Facebook it means one more function people can do on Facebook... in addition to the hours people already spend sending messages, sharing photos and playing games.

Facebook is slowly becoming the go-to place for all internet users. The company seems to want to become the place where people conduct all their personal and business life (see the new website "BranchOut" which is similar to LinkedIn) online. We never have to leave Facebook now.

Adding this new video calling feature, which will be available in the coming weeks, just puts another nail in the coffin as Facebook asserts more power in the internet marketplace.

For the 20-somethings who text like crazy, video conferencing brings an extra layer of intimacy for people who prefer to see who they are talking to. And immigrants find it great too to talk to relatives overseas or just across the continent.

For Skype, with its 150 million users who make free calls from computers and mobile devices, this partnership will grow its operations, especially since Facebook now has 750 million members.

Skype’s CEO Tony Bates posted on a video message on Skype’s blog yesterday saying his company’s goal is to get to 1 billion users, focusing first on free audio and video calling on Facebook, with possible paid calling down the road.

Most of Skype’s services are free, but it does offer a calling service for a fee to landlines and cell phones.

Microsoft is currently in the process of acquiring Skype for $8.5 billion USD. The deal is expected to close in a few months. This could signal more partnerships in the future between Microsoft and Facebook.

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