Facebook Should Buy Skype, Analysts Agree

Analysts largely agree that Facebook would do well to acquire VOIP giant Skype, allowing the social network's users to leverage calling capabilities and helping Facebook battle Google.

Just hours after news surfaced that Facebook and Skype could be entering into a VOIP (voice over IP) partnership, industry watchers seized on the potential deal as flirtation that should evolve into an acquisition.

AllThingsDigital reported Sept. 29 that Facebook and Skype are mulling an integration that would allow users of the world's largest social network to send text messages and make voice and video calls to friends and contacts via Skype.

Facebook users will be able to sign into Skype through Facebook Connect, which allows users to sign into third-party Websites with their Facebook accounts.

The integration-which would enable Facebook's 500 million users to connect to Skype, which has 560 million registered users of its own-is expected in the Skype 5.0 beta this month.

But that is not the same as buying Skype outright and dumping the platform into Facebook. Far from it.

GigaOm issued the obvious question, "Should Facebook Buy Skype?" in this blog post, noting that a merger of the dominant Web calling platform and largest social graph is a logical combination to keep users from Google. Others have similar beliefs.

Industry analysts largely agree, with caveats. Forrester Research analyst Augie Ray said Facebook has already become a significant communication channel for many people.

Ray added that whether Facebook buys Skype, forges the allege deal with the VOIP company or creates its own VOIP capabilities, video chat provides important face-to-face connections for users.

Ray noted that while Facebook status updates are already near-real-time communications, the social network's chat application isn't very efficient.

"This is a great next step for Facebook," Ray said. "Skype will give Facebook users the chance to make true face-to-face connections."