Facebook Enlists Skype to Facilitate Video Calling

11:32 AM PST 07/06/2011 by Paul Bond
Facebook

The partnership comes a few weeks after Google launches a test version of its newest social networking initiative, which includes group video chats.

Facebook will introduce several improvements to its little-used video chatting feature, the most significant being a partnership with Skype, the social network’s executives, including co-founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday.

The deal is seen as a boost to Microsoft, which is an investor in Facebook and is in the midst of purchasing Skype for $8.5 billion.

In making the announcement, Facebook also said it has reached 750 million users worldwide. The partnership will no doubt quickly boost Skype’s user base, which is at 170 million.

The improvements include a list of the people each Facebook user messages most, and a multi-person chat, which Facebook engineer Philip Su called “one of our most requested features.”

“Now when your friends can’t figure out what movie to see, you can just add them to a chat and decide together,” Su said in a Facebook blog post.

Facebook is making its new video calling available in 70 languages and Su said it “will be available to everyone over the next few weeks.”

Facebook is by far the Internet’s most popular social network, though it has a new rival in Google+ from the Internet’s most successful company: Google.

Google+ launched two weeks ago in a testing phase as the search company’s answer to Facebook, and one of its features is video calling. Google calls the group video chats “Hangouts” and restricts them to 10 participants each.

In Wednesday's announcement, video of which is online, Zuckerberg may have acknowledged Google+ when he said Facebook is different from “major Internet companies who try to do everything themselves.”

Using Google+ by name, though, he simply called it “validation” of Facebook, not that company needs it, considering its popularity and estimated value of up to $100 billion.

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