Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced ‘'something awesome’ news Wednesday at a press conference in Facebook's Palo Alto, California headquarters. The announcement is that: a new video chat feature powered by hugely popular Skype.
The Social networking giant teamed up with Skype to offer video chat inside of its pages as the company prepares to go head-to-head with the world's largest search engine. The move is seen as direct response to the Google+’s 'Hangouts’ feature, which already allows users to video chat.
Although video chat is nothing new, Mark Zuckerberg touted the ease of Facebook's video chat. In a demonstration, a Facebook engineer showed that the browser-based function only takes two clicks to fully activate.
It takes about 30 seconds for the whole program to boot on most broadband connections. Users just have to click a button on a Facebook popup window to accept a request for video chat.
The service will be free according to Zuckerberg. He said the company maintains a great relationship with Microsoft, which recently bought Skype.
Zuckerberg said that the Skype deal is a metaphor for more to come. Facebook will focus on the social infrastructure and leave app development to independent entrepreneurs. The future isn't about connecting people but about building cool apps.
“Skype wanted to become as broadly available as possible, and by teaming with Facebook and its 700 million users, it has done just that,” Skype CEO Tony Bates said.
Facebook also made a few minor announcements, including an improvement to the group chat function. Users will now be able to chat with others in their group instantly.
Zuckerberg hinted that video chat for multiple people could eventually be available on Facebook. But, he said that most video chats today occur between two people.
Google+ generated plenty of buzz with its own videoconferencing function, which allows up to 10 people on the service to participate in a video call.
However, despite Facebook's partnership with Skype and Microsoft, an analyst at Enderle Group, said today's announcement does make it look like Facebook is chasing Google.
Facebook may have started down this path first, but Google made theirs public first, so it makes it look like Facebook is catching up, said Rob Enderle, principal of the Enderle analyst group.
Google+, launched just a week ago, has the basic features that Facebook has, but adds innovations like Circles, a tool to easily organize and arrange friends, and tools to tag search results and other things around Google's online eco-system.
However, that latest teaming up with Skype has some limitations. You can't make calls outside of Facebook to Skype contacts even though calls are handled through Skype's own peer-to-peer networking technology.
Facebook and Skype have been working together previously in a more limited capacity, integrating various Facebook features into Skype's program, but this could be a big step forward for Facebook and Skype, launching an integrated product with Skype video chat within the Facebook browser.
The partnership will be a win-win situation for both companies, particular it could have a major impact on Skype. Facebook has more than 750 million users; the Skype integrates into Facebook mean an explosion in Skype users. Facebook will get a massive leg-up if users will start using the social media site to chat via voice or video.