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Facebook adds Skype video chat in response to Google+

Competition in business is good, especially in high-tech business. It benefits customers.

Today, Facebook introduced a video-calling feature in partnership with Skype, a popular audio and video chat provider. There will be a “call” button at the top of users’ profile pages that Facebook users who have webcams can use to video-chat. Users can click on the call button or find someone on the new buddylist bar on the right side. Facebook turned on the service for millions of users today and will add it to more accounts over time. The only downside at all that I can see is that Microsoft, never an innovator, now owns Skype.

I just looked and I don’t have video chat yet, darn it! I didn’t “make the cut!” :-(

(Note added July 11, 2011: I still have not “made the cut.” C’mon Facebook, it’s not nice to tease customers. Meanwhile, I HAVE been playing with Google+. :-) )

Video chats via Skype on Facebook come one week after Google launched a competing social network with video chat, called Google+. Today, Facebook alslo introduced a change to its group messaging service and now allows creation of group conversations on the fly.

Ray Valdes, an Internet analyst at Gartner Research was quoted by CNN:

“This is their response to Google+ right now,” said Ray Valdes, an Internet analyst at Gartner Research. “I think it’s a little bit of catchup in terms of features.”

Although Facebook does not yet have the ability to do group video chats, Skype CEO Tony Bates said that the cooperation with Facebook leaves open the possible addition of new features, such as group calling or paid features like calling to landlines.

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg said that Google’s do-it-alone approach to social networking , as opposed to one that integrates with other tech companies, is doomed to fail.

“We’re doing this with Skype, and I think that this is kind of symbolic,” Zuckerberg said. “Entrepreneurs who focus on a specific type of thing will always do better than a company trying to do a million things.”

In general, I would AGREE with Zuckerberg’s statement; however, it really DOES matter whom you choose as partners. I think that the innovative OLD Skype might have made a great partner, but I think that nobody knows the directions that Skype will take under Microsoft ownership.

The CNN article says that there may have been unrealistic expectations for today’s event, because Zuckerberg told reporters last week that Facebook would be announcing “something awesome.” I think that some people who were “underwhelmed” by the announcement LACK IMAGINATION! :-) (But there is no shortage of such people….)

Rolling out video chat to a social network of 750 million people that has both reunited old friends and allowed governments and companies to construct “social graphs” is revolutionary…

… and “something awesome,” indeed!

(Note added July 6, 2011 23:12: A long-time friend from Netscape days just invited me to Google+. Yeah, she works at Facebook! :-) I am hopeful that I will be added to video chat on Facebook soon!)

-Bill at

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