Facebook Dials Up Skype
      Author:Shayndi Raice / Ian Sherr     Source: http://cn.wsj.com     Release Time:7/11/2011 9:00:28 AM     View Times:10843
Facebook Inc. said it is integrating Skype video chat into its social network, firing another salvo at rival Google Inc. following the launch of a competing social-networking service.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, said Wednesday his company will offer users the ability to chat one-on-one with their Facebook friends, only a week after Google debuted its own video-chat service through a new offering called Google+.

But Facebook didn't match one of the most notable features of Google's service -- the ability for users to conduct video chats in groups through a feature it calls 'Hangouts.'

Mr. Zuckerberg said he sees Google+ as supporting evidence for Facebook's vision that the Web will become a more social experience. He also noted that Facebook has spent the last five years building up a user base, which Mr. Zuckerberg disclosed has now reached 750 million -- up from recent estimates of about 600 million.

'I just think you're going to start seeing all these different companies building on top of that,' he said. 'I view a lot of this as validation that this is the wave of the next five years.'

Facebook's video chat feature taps into Skype's communications network, which uses what the industry calls peer-to-peer technology to exchange data over the Internet between computers and mobile devices.

Neither company will reap any sort of financial benefit from the deal initially, but Skype Chief Executive Tony Bates said his company could eventually offer its paid products through Facebook. Facebook could potentially share in the revenue of such services, although the details haven't been worked out yet, a Facebook spokesman said.

Facebook said group chatting is being considered for future products. Philip Su, the chief engineer who lead the video initiative, said the company wanted to keep features to a minimum at launch to attract users who hadn't previously tried such services.

'We wanted to make it one click and you connect in thirty seconds,' he said.
Video chatting through the Web isn't new. Google began offering it through its email services, Gmail, in November 2008.

Facebook said it has been working with Skype on plans for video-chat integration for at least the past six months, which was well before Microsoft Corp. agreed to acquire Skype. The deal is still awaiting regulatory approval.
Mr. Bates said the day the acquisition was announced, his first meeting was with Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and Mr. Zuckerberg. 'For Steve and I, that was the most important strategic relationship,' Mr. Bates said.

Mr. Zuckerberg said the partnership with Skype wasn't predicated on Microsoft's participation, but having the software company in the background was reassuring. 'It gives a sense of stability,' Mr. Zuckerberg said.

Facebook has been working with Microsoft since 2007, when the software giant made a $240 million investment in Facebook. The companies deepened their ties last October, when Microsoft's Bing search engine began tapping into people's social connections on Facebook.

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