Facebook Partners With Skype, Launches Free Video Chat
The social networking giant also enables group chat, an improved design and reveals that it is now serving more than 750 million users.PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Facebook made three significant announcements July 6, all important to the company and to the online social networking market in different ways. First, Facebook announced that it has surpassed the 750 million-member mark, with a cool 1 billion clearly within reach. The last time Facebook talked about its membership last October, it had just passed 500 million.
Secondly, the company revealed a new partnership with Skype, the world's largest peer-to-peer video service, which is soon to become property of Microsoft.
Facebook, Google Each 'Playing Catch-up'
Gartner Research Vice President Ray Valdes told eWEEK he thought Facebook is "clearly in a defensive position" when it comes up against Google+, for a few reasons.
"I agree with Facebook's assessment that we're moving from a era where we make the initial connection to an era in which you assume a connection and build engagement. They're parallel with Google+ as far as group chat, but they're clearly in a defensive position, because they don't have circles and they don't have the group video," Valdes said.
"So in that sense, in terms of features, they're playing catch-up. However, they've [Facebook] got the installed base of 700 million-plus people and the social connections, so Google, on the other hand, is playing catch-up in that area."
Facebook's video chat has an advantage because it's easy to use, but it also has a disadvantage "because it's 'arm's length' technology," Valdes said. "This is because it's built on Skype, whereas Google has built theirs all by themselves."
Zuckerberg virtually shrugged off the accomplishment of gaining 750 million users earlier in the conference as if it wasn't a big deal.
"The reason why we didn't report it is we don't think it's the metric to watch right now," Zuckerberg said. "We're more interested in the value that Facebook brings to people and the things they share on it."
Skype CEO Tony Bates (left) and Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg share a laugh during a press conference to announce Facebook's video chat functionality at company headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. (Photo by Chris Preimesberger)