When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook would announce something “awesome” on July 6, he wasn’t fooling much of the media that covers him. (You know your company has clout when the media covers an announcement of an upcoming announcement). Report after report predicted that Facebook would integrate Skype video chat and, thanks to TechCrunch.com, the rumor has finally been confirmed.
Mashable.com sees the Skype integration as a direct response to the recently launched Google+, which features a group video chat capability called Google+ Hangouts. “Google is seeing a lot of traction with the feature, but if Facebook can release a video chat product next week, Google+ Hangouts may not seem as revolutionary,” Mashable reported.
The Financial Times technology hub referred to the Facebook-Skype collaboration as “a compelling response to one of the few areas that Google+…could claim a real advantage over Facebook.”
I personally hope the reports (confirmed or not) are wrong and that the new feature is an improved iPad app or music service, as others predicted it would be before the TechCrunch confirmation. The New York Times also reported Facebook was testing an updated app that would be released some time in July.
“People who have seen the application said it has a slick design that has been tailored for the iPad and its touchscreen interface,” the Times reported. “Facebook developers and designers have also overhauled the Facebook Chat and Facebook Groups features for the application. And the app will go beyond the features available on the Facebook website by allowing users to shoot and upload photos and videos directly from the iPad’s built-in cameras.”
Sign me up.
It’s obvious there are major benefits to enabling video chat within a social network (such as video chatting, for example), but I likely won’t use the feature and would prefer a Facebook iPad app that at least remotely resembles the Web version.
At the end of the day, however, Facebook will do its best to fight off Google+, and if Hangouts is the feature that differentiates the product from all other social networks, then it makes perfect sense for Facebook to come out swinging with its own video technology. Just make sure you update that darn iPad functionality soon, Mark.