Facebook and Skype have announced an in-browser video-based chat feature as its next big thing. Will this new feature dent the interest in Google+?
Facing the Truth
All of a sudden, Skype seems to be the hottest property on the planet, acquired at a premium by Microsoft, feted by Apple and Sony to appear in burnished form on their lead devices, and now appearing in a technology tie-up with Facebook to offer video chat between you and your social media friends.
That ignores much of the idea behind Facebook that people like, wihch was to not have to talk to people, but still keep in touch. Still, for most users, there must be a number of people they like to chat with on a regular basis and this solution goes some way to making that more convenient.
The launch takes place in a few hours time when we'll learn exactly how this all works. Will there be a download, will you need a Skype account? We'll have coverage and updates from the Seattle event.
Live From Seattle
Mark Zuckerberg took center stage at the Facebook event, looking at the future he predicts a web of social infrastructure, connected by a range of apps and systems. How success is measured will move from solely the number of users to the level at which they are engaged and sharing with their friends.
He estimates the rates of content sharing are doubling each year, tracking Moore's Law with some four billion items shared each day among Facebook users.
Sharing of content will outstrip user growth
Group Chat and Video
The actual announcements were broken down into three things with a new update for Group Chat, Facebook Chat will get a redesign to help make it easier to find your friends who are online. The big piece was the Video Calling in partnership with Skype. Using the regular Facebook page, a new chatee who hasn't used the feature before will be invited to download the plug-in before commencing a video chat, making it a fairly painless process.
50% of Facebook users are involved in a Group with an average of seven users in a group. Now you can create ad hoc groups, so users can pick some friends and decide what to do that day. Friends who you wanted to invite but aren't online will get a summary of any chat.
Skype For All
The new Video Calling feature works by clicking on the Video Call button, being rolled out to users from today. A pop-up video shows your camera's view while the call is established, then your friend pops up and off you go. Its all in-browser, with only that minor one-time plug-in to start the whole thing rolling.
Soon you'll call your family, who'll call their friends, who rope in their friends, making the whole thing a viral process waiting to happen with no log-ins, delays or logos. Skype's Tony Bates was on-hand to see the product launch.
He said that around 50% of Skype traffic is now video-based as people from around the world call home. Making Skype easier to access is a big part of the company's future but he didn't mention anything about life beyond the Microsoft deal.