Apple FaceTime Gets Video Chat Competition from Facebook's Integration with Skype
Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised an "awesome" announcement Wednesday. And what was promised was delivered just over an hour ago at the company's Palo Alto, California headquarters.
As the world learned this afternoon, social networking giant Facebook is integrating with Skype to facilitate video calls through the Facebook platform. Although there is some confusion across the blogosphere as to whether the new feature can be used n iDevices, Zuckerberg said that - at least for now - Skype video chat through Facebook is a "web-only feature." So until further notice, don't look for the "call" button within Facebook's iPhone application.
"The video calling is so great and it's so easy," said Zuckerberg, who also confirmed today that Facebook now has more than 750 million registered users. "Your least-technical friend is going to be able to get online with video chat and get connected," Zuckberg says of the new feature. "You'll connect with your friends on the social network that already has all your friends."
Although some are already calling the new Facebook video chat feature a direct competitor to Apple's Facetime, no one is exactly articulating how this comparison makes sense, particularly since iDevices presently won't support the new Facebook feature. Simply put, if you want to engage in a video call on your iPhone 4, Facetime is still the way to go, as there is no Facebook option to compete with at this juncture.
So how does the new Facebook video chat feature work? In the future, when you check out a friend’s profile, there will be a new button located between the ‘Message’ and ‘Poke’ buttons. The added button says ‘Call.’ Once you click the button, the friend will receive a popup message asking whether they want to accept or decline the call. If they accept, you will be immediately connected for a video chat.
Best of all, Facebook has integrated with Skype in a way that doesn't place onerous set-up or installation burdens on Facebook users. All it takes to use the new service is a small plugin (which installs within seconds.) You don't even need a Skype account to enjoy the video chat functionality now provided by Facebook.