Facebook promised us something “awesome” today and, as expected, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg announced video calling in partnership through Skype.
The feature begins rolling out today, and will be available to all users within a few weeks. Those who are eager to try it now can do so by signing up at Facebook.
At the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., Zuckerberg said the best part about the video calling feature is that users don’t have to set up a Skype account. It’s built right into the system with a small download that engineer Philip Su said should take about thirty seconds. Skype CEO Tony Bates said that paid Skype services may eventually be offered through the network.
With the video calling feature, Facebook is more equipped to handle mounting competition from Google and its Google + network, which offers video chat as a main feature. But Google + allows for up to 10 people to video chat at once, whereas Facebook’s service is currently limited to one-on-one calls.
Zuckerberg said that he wouldn’t “undersell” one-to-one chat, when asked about Google +, adding that the launch of the network is “validation” of his theory that the next five years in tech are about building apps for the social world.
In addition to video calls, Facebook will roll out a sidebar that showcases the people that users message most and allows users to incorporate group chat.
The CEO also confirmed that Facebook had already hit 750 million users, immediately adding that he didn’t think that growth should be the metric for social networking anymore. The company’s focus now will be mainly on apps and mobile, he said.
He also said that Facebook would leave application development to third parties letting other companies make “best in class” projects that could be integrated into its network.
This announcement kicks off what many expect will be a big summer for the social network. TechCrunch reported that the company is reportedly working on “Project Spartan,” an HTML5-based platform for mobile that will run on Apple iOS devices and use Facebook’s in-system currency, Facebook Credits.
What do you think about Facebook’s announcement? Is it “awesome”? Or is Facebook behind the curve?
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