One has to appreciate the timing of Facebook unveiling a group chat application one week after Google+ launches a social network to not-so-subtly compete with Facebook, which has more than 750 million users.
However, there are some differences between the services, which may matter if people use both + and Facebook and may not if they use one or the other. As a journalist covering the space, I'm going to try both.
But first, a little info clarity. I knew that Google Hangouts permitted 10 simultaneous video chat users per session, so I wanted to see if Facebook was the same, less or more.
Facebook's video chat is one-to-one, though it will allow group messaging chat for up to 20 people at once.
Moreover, apparently Facebook said that one-on-one video chat is far more popular on Skype than group chat. So who knows when/if group video chat will be part of the mix. My guess is if it works great on Google+, Facebook will add it.
The big question is whether it will charge for it. Skype charges users $5 to $10 per month for multi-person video chat. Would Facebook do what Google does and eat the cost of video transmission over the Web as the cost of competing. Probably.
10 people on a video chat seems crazy to me... unless you're planning a strategy session or doing some project management. I wonder if the Wave concept came into Hangouts.
Interestingly, TechCrunch said Hangouts is lousy for one-to-one call sessions, so Google may want to fix that to compete with Facebook's video chat with Skype service.
ReadWriteWeb says otherwise, noting that users start a Hangout, deselect the Public option, and pick a contact from auto suggestions.
Moreover, having more options for video chat is a plus, pun intended..
CNET has a full review of both Google Hangouts and Facebook with Skype video chat here, with the conclusion that confirms the TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb reports that:
"Facebook is simpler to use. The longer answer is that you might be happier with Google in day-to-day use."
What is your experience with both Hangouts and Facebook video chat?