Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made hint to Seattle press this week about launching an “awesome” new product next week that has been built by Facebook’s Seattle team. The press invitations to that event say nothing more than “Please join us for an event at Facebook” on July 6.
There have been a lot of rumors about the new product of Facebook. A source close to the project said that Facebook will launch a new video chat product, powered by Skype, that works in browser, TechCrunch reported.
There is also evidence that Facebook might extend into the desktop, as confirmed by a job posting for the company’s Seattle office, which is just beginning to be staffed up. This Software Engineer posting clearly reveals Facebook’s intentions to build a desktop client.
This deal will benefit Skype as it tries to remain relevant in the social networking world. In addition, this could be the first result of the company’s recent acquisition by Microsoft, a company that has several deep partnerships with Facebook, including Windows Phone 7′s system-wide integration with the social network.
Either way, I hope Facebook takes this opportunity to refresh its aging Facebook Chat. Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice and video calls and chats over the Internet.
Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones can be made for a fee using a debit-based user account system.
Skype has also become popular for its additional features which include instant messaging, file transfer, and video conferencing.
Skype has 663 million registered users as of 2010. On 10 May 2011, Microsoft Corporation agreed to acquire Skype Communications for US$8.5 billion.
Microsoft promised to keep the company independently-run, as well as leave its Linux and Mac software untouched. Instead, Microsoft will use Skype to further its reach in the web services space, where it hasn’t been very relevant in the past.
There are quite a lot of questions about the new video chat. For example the report doesn’t reveal the details about how it will work. We still don’t know whether the chat will require a software download and whether it will support group video chats.
However, the video chat will be a great addition to Facebook. It is also will be presented just at the proper time as Google launched its Google+ this week in a bid to counter Facebook’s social networking dominance.
And while Google+ doesn’t offer too much that Facebook doesn’t match, it does have a feature called Hangouts where Google+ users can initiate group chat sessions and friends on the service can drop by spontaneously.
Now people looking to video chat with their Friends have to leave Facebook to do so – heading to Skype, Apple’s FaceTime software, Google Talk and now Google+ Hangouts. [via TechCrunch, Los Angeles Times and Redmond Pie]