Adding a Skype-like app is a logical step for Facebook, says a research report. It could make Facebook $800 million a year and "succeed where Google and Microsoft have failed."
A Skype-like voice-over IP solution is the
next logical offering for Facebook and could bring the giant social network as
much as another $800 million a year, according to a new report from the
Copenhagen-based research firm Strand
Facebook's investors would be pleased to see
a few more dollars in its coffers, and a Skype-like solution could offer that
and more, said the report, which reviews the "paradigm shift" for
voice traffic, and beyond, that Skype created.
In the past, VOIP solutions such as Google
Talk and MSN, as well as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs)- subletters
of the telecom industry-like Lyca Mobile and Lebara Mobile, tried to compete
against Skype. Then Microsoft, knowing it couldn't compete with Skype,
purchased it in May 2011 for $8.5 billion-a tricky sum, Strand points out,
since Skype doesn't collect the cash flow that it disrupts. The dollars saved
on VOIP aren't redirected, they're just not spent.
Still, "Skype's revenue is nothing to
sneeze at, especially for an Internet company struggling to show a profit on
advertising revenue. Facebook is scrambling to please investors, and $300
million to $800 million from VOIP would be welcome on the income
statement," stated the report.
It continued, "We think not of the
question of whether Facebook will enter the VOIP market, but rather whether
Facebook [will] succeed where Google and Microsoft have failed. Indeed,
Facebook has more likelihood than any platform to be the Skype killer."
Facebook is nearing 1 billion users, and on
Aug. 23 it introduced an update to
its iOS app for iPhones and iPads, trying to encourage more of those users
to interact with the site through their mobile devices. (Strand said Facebook
wants to engage users through every screen, including their televisions.) The
company dramatically sped up the app, making it faster to load, faster to
scroll through and quicker to click through to content.
With more users on smartphones, Facebook
could further benefit, and it already has the resources to support a VOIP app,
Strand pointed out.
"Facebook already has the payment
collection facility developed for its multiplayer games, so it would be no
problem to charge individual users for VOIP services," Strand analysts
wrote. "Our analysis shows that Facebook could have a remarkable potential
in the area of VOIP. It could create a communication experience far richer than
what is available today."
With such an app, Strand also said Facebook
could bring in revenue equal to what Skype currently makes.
"The premium model of Skype has proven
more profitable per user than Facebook's advertising model," the
consulting firm said. Skype's paying users-who number about 8.8 million of its
668 million total users-"spend an average of approximately $100 per year
on Skype Out and other services. Facebook's advertiser revenue when apportioned
for users in Europe and North America ... is less than $10 per user."
Facebook isn't exactly hurting. During its
first quarter as a public company, it saw profits
of $992 million on revenue of $1.18 billion. But since its tremendously
hyped initial public offering (IPO)-at the end of its first
day of trading on the Nasdaq exchange, Wall Street put the value of the
company near $104 billion-its stock price has taken a tumble. After its earnings
announcement, the stock's price per share fell by roughly 10 percent.
With a Skype-like offering, Facebook could
further its agenda of entwining itself with users, while also offering a richer
"If Skype is a black-and-white
film," wrote Strand Consult, "then Facebook's VOIP would be a 3D
Michelle Maisto on Twitter.
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.