For quite a few days, Facebook was alluding to something “awesome” in the works. Today, the awesomeness was revealed as the social networking giant will integrate with Skype video chat.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the most followed dude on Google+, made the announcement Wednesday at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California.
At the announcement, Zuck mentioned that Facebook now has some 750 million users. Skype, which currently has 145 million regular users, should benefit from a brand new user base.
“The core of Skype users are people that have extraordinary circumstances – they have a computer but no money, or they have friends and family on a different continent. This could ultimately grow the number of Skype numbers that use it within the United States,” said Kim Caughey Forrest, senior analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group.
Initially Facebook and Skype’s chat offering will be limited to one-on-one encounters, but that could change soon. If Zuck really wants to take on Google+, and you can bet he does, he’ll need to start working at integrating group video chat. Google+ already works with a service that allows up to 10 people on videoconferencing at a time.
It’s interesting to note how Microsoft plays in, too. In the process of buying Skype for a cool $8.5 million, Microsoft should benefit from this arrangement. After all, they own 1.6 percent of Facebook and would love a swipe at Google any way they can take it. Perhaps we’ll start to see more Bing-integrated things on Skype and/or Facebook in the near future.
The Facebook/Skype plugin is simple to use, said Zuckerberg. Users won’t have to download the full Skype product, as a modest installation will take about 10 to 20 seconds to set the whole shebang up. Any Facebook user can video chat with any one of their contacts almost immediately.
“That kind of thing is only possible because the social infrastructure already exists. The system already knows that we’re connected and we already have a pipe open between us so new apps like video chat can just flow across that,” said Zuckerberg.