The Facebook video calling was introduced with much fanfare and hype (i.e. Zuckerberg's promise a week in advanced to introduce something awesome). Google+ is touting its hangouts group video chat feature.
With two of the biggest tech names (three, if you include Skype's owner Microsoft) rushing into this field, something is up.
So will Facebook video calling (or Google's) become ubiquitous, as Skype CEO Tony Bates hopes it will?
There are arguments on both sides.
On the one hand, MP3 players and coffee existed long before Apple and Starbucks came along. Yet both are now ubiquitous products because Apple and Starbucks have done them so well.
Commercial video chatting has existed commercially for a decade (group video chatting technology also exists). However, it never caught on.
So can Facebook video calling take it to the next level? The Facebook video calling service looks extremely convenient and is seamlessly integrated into Facebook. If your laptop comes with a webcam, you're inevitably going to be tempted to try it.
Once you try it, you might find yourself liking it and using it more and more. If any platform can induce this kind of widespread adoption, it's Facebook (if not Facebook, then Google).
However, video chatting does face its challenges. For example, video chatting isn't the best for multi-tasking (text chatting is), nor is it good for having multiple conservations (text chatting is).
On text chat, it's possible to talk simultaneously about a serious topic with one person and a humorous topic with another. On video, it's trickier (on your face).
Multi-tasking and interacting with multiple people is simply how people use computers. Video chatting needs to be able to do that, likely by rolling out sensible features on tabbing, notification, and recording.
For anyone can do it, though, it's those genius engineers at Facebook or Google.