Facebook announced the 'super awesome' news that they will be partnering with Skype with plans to offer users video chat through the social network website - is it in response to a growing threat called Google+ Hangouts?
The feature is called Facebook Calling and it will be available to its 750 million- plus users in the coming weeks.
Skype is considered the top player in the online video and calling chat platform. Teaming up with the world's largest social network, Skype will seek to expand their customer reach up to five times larger than their current pool.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, spoke of the company's continual growth and desire to bring the best technology in video chatting and integrate that with an already massive online chat platform on Facebook's website. He believes that sharing will only increase exponentially and the partnership with Skype will facilitate the user experience in socializing and sharing.
Facebook and Skype enjoyed a friendly relationship as Skype integrated Facebook elements into their website allowing users to make calls and chat with Facebook users without leaving Skype. The new dynamic duo could become a big response to Google+, which also offers video chat on their social network called Hangouts.
As of now, the Facebook Calling feature is restricted to just computer to computer. Facebook users will begin to see a new addition to their usual profile interface which will be a sidebar displaying features for group chatting and video conferencing. Facebook's Group Chat allows multiple users to chat at once. Enhancements were also made to the current chat platform as it received a new design that displays friends you chat with the most. The new chat is designed to encourage more friends to join in group conversations and makes the experience even more social than it already is.
The new Facebook announcement is a sure response to Google's Hangouts and looks to keep the competition fierce. Zuckerberg admitted the upcoming Google+ as a threat and that Facebook will need to be on their heels to maintain the top position for social networking.
The last five years have been about connecting people; the next five years are about building these apps (to do that), he said. What you're going to see are companies - not just companies like Google entering that arena...Every app is going to be social. Our job is to stay focused on building the best service for that; and if we don't, someone else will.
Google+ has taken a first step in video conferencing for social networks as Facebook may be playing catch-up with today's announcement. Google has already launched an Android app and currently pending an iOS app that will plan to feature video chats in the near future. Hangout allows up to 10 users per video conference and plans to increase that number for corporate webinar usage. Currently the video chats are free on Google+; it may not seem likely for Skype to follow as users currently need to pay for group video conferences.
Google's wide portfolio of services could keep Facebook's attention as the battle heats up. Some features that Google+ could be looking to implement into Hangouts include TV and movies. Currently the web search giant is in negotiations to bid for Hulu. If Hulu is integrated into Google+, users could watch TV shows with their Circle group of friends and can easily share across Google's wide range of websites like YouTube and Gmail.
Google's unique arrangement of Circles and concept of a very social experience by having users drop in on video calls. This leaves Facebook with the challenge of offering a unique experience for their own users through the Skype partnership.