News Analysis: There's more than one way to enter the social networking market, and it looks like Microsoft is doing it by gradually expanding its alliance with Facebook.
announcement by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on July 6 that Facebook will be
launching a new
video chat capability using Skype was interesting on several levels.
Perhaps the most interesting is that it appears to be a quick turnaround
reaction to Google+, a new social networking service launched the previous
has been described as "Facebook without the annoyances." And to
some extent that's correct. On Facebook you either have people who are friends
or have people who aren't friends and with whom you have no interaction unless
you become friends. Of course, there are other options such as fan pages, etc.
But the choices are pretty limited.
Google+ (or G+ as it's being called now), you divide people you connect with
into circles. You can use the premade circles such as "Friends" and "Acquaintances,"
or you can create circles with your choice of names. For example, I could
create a circle called "eWEEK Editors" and then gather these people
into that circle. The idea is that what you say to one circle stays there. Your
acquaintances can't see what happens in your Friends circle.
avoids the problem of prospective employers seeing what goes on inside your Friends
circle. But the Google concept goes farther. You can follow people in much the
same way you can on Twitter, and you will get to see whatever comments they
have for public consumption. You can block people from following you, and you
can converse with people in instant messages or with video chats. This is
called Hanging Out, but it's really a multiuser video chat service. You can
converse with up to 10 people at one time.
pretty clear that Facebook's big announcement of a connection to Skype was in
response to Google's capability, and it's also clear that the Facebook team
knows just what Google is doing with this. After all, Mark Zuckerberg and
several other Facebook executives are members of G+. But this isn't the first
connection between Facebook and Skype. Skype users have already been able to
connect their Skype accounts to their Facebook Friends lists, and they've been
able to instant message their Facebook friends from the Skype IM interface.
now, once the capability is actually available to everyone, you'll be able to
do video chats with Skype users. But even with this, G+ is already ahead. Skype
through Facebook is a one-to-one connection. G+ is many-to-many. With Google
Plus you can have a real group conversation.
Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.
He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.