Facebook’s ‘awesome’ new product is rumoured to be an in-browser video chat tie-up with Skype
Rumours abound that Facebook is to announce an in-browser video chat feature in partnership with Skype this week.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent analysts and commentators into overdrive when he said last week that Facebook would be launching an “awesome” new product, and on Friday the social media giant called a press conference for Wednesday 6 July.
The source of the speculation is a post on TechCruch quoting an unnamed source with “knowledge of the partnership”.
Although any such service is likely to be months in the making, Facebook is keen to wrestle the recent social media headlines away from Google, which has just launched its latest foray into social media, Google+, and Microsoft, which recently announced its acquisition of Skype.
Google+, currently available by invite only, features an in-browser video chatting system called Hangouts which supports one-on-one chats or groups of up to ten.
This could feasibly make it a competitor to Skype as well as Facebook, but any partnership between those two would give Skype access to Facebook’s 750 million users. Skype itself has 663 million users.
Facebook chat is already supported in the latest beta of Skype for Windows and the two have worked together previously on facilitating the cross-checking of Skype contacts with Facebook’s user list to search out more ‘friends’.
Microsoft is currently in the process of acquiring Skype for $8.5bn (£5.2bn) – Microsoft’s largest acquisition – and the software developer is also a Facebook shareholder.
Google+ has piqued substantial interest since its launch because Google’s last adventure in social media was less than successful.
The chat-based Buzz service never caught on, but with Google+ the search engine leader has moved much closer to the Facebook model.
The platform is built around four main elements: Hangouts, Circles, Sparks, and mobile, which includes instant photo and video uploads and group messaging.
Circles allows users to create groups of friends, for example colleagues or those with common interests by dragging and dropping friends into the circles. This aim is simpler control over what is shared with whom than Facebook.
Sparks is an online topic-based conversation tool through which access is gained by updating user’s interests.
It emerged yesterday, again via TechCrunch, that Zuckerberg himself had joined Google+.