Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

Summary: Facebook has announced significant improvements to Facebook Chat: video calling powered by Skype, group chat, and an option to see the friends you message most.

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As rumored and anticipated, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg today announced video calling, powered by Skype. The company also revealed other chat improvements, including an option to see the friends you message most and group chat, plus confirmed that it now has 750 million users. You can watch the whole announcement here.

While Facebook admitted that video chat has been around for years now, the company emphasized that it's still not an everyday activity for most people. Sometimes it's too difficult to set up, or the friends you want to talk to are on different services. As a result, a few months ago Facebook started working with Skype to bring video calling to the social network.

The video functionality has been built it right into Facebook Chat, so all your conversations start from the same place. To call your friend, just click the video call button at the top of your chat window (though there is a one-time setup you will have to go through first).

Facebook is making this new feature available in over 70 different languages to everyone over the next few weeks. If you don't want until Facebook gives you video calling, you can get it now by going to facebook.com/videocalling.

In addition, the new chat design includes a sidebar that lists the people you message most, whether on line or offline. It adjusts with the size of your browser window, and automatically appears when the window is wide enough. As for multi-person chat, which Facebook says is one of our most requested features, all you have to do is click Add Friends to Chat. Just like your other chats, the history of your conversation is available in Messages.

Facebook and Skype first talked about a potential partnership in September 2010, but they could not reach an agreement. When Skype 5.0 was released in October 2010, the new version offered voice calling between Facebook friends, but it did not include a video chatting feature. The integration was a one-way road: only Skype added some Facebook features to its client.

The Skype tie-in to Facebook is important for another reason: Microsoft. Two months ago, the software giant announced it was acquiring Skype for $8.5 billion in cash. The deal was approved by the boards of directors of both companies, and once it goes through, it will be Microsoft's largest acquisition to date.

Before Microsoft's announcement, there were rumors that Google and Facebook were both interested in the Luxembourg-based company. Although Facebook failed to buy Skype, the company was still likely happy that Microsoft beat out Google. You see, Microsoft is a Facebook investor (since October 2007) and the two collaborate quite a bit.

Once the Microsoft-Skype deal goes through, and once we see start seeing Skype on Facebook, Facebook will finally be integrating something that Microsoft owns to its website. Previously, the partnership between the two has only seen Microsoft integrating Facebook content and data into Bing. At one point, Microsoft managed ads for Facebook, but that was eventually replaced by Facebook's own ad platform.

Facebook has 750 million users, and since Skype only has 170 million users, it's understandable what Skype gains from this integration. On the other hand, data has shown that Facebook users want voice (and video) chat, so it's clear that the social network will benefit as well.

See also:

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration, Microsoft

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

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25 comments
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  • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

    And who will soon own Skype? Microsoft! That's a potential 750 million users of Skype. That $8 billion deal doesn't sound so bad after all.
    LoverockDavidson
    • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

      @LoverockDavidson
      So, over $100 per user? Let me know when they have a positive ROI. Sometime in 20+ years when social networking is completely different from today and Skype is a smudge on the pages of tech history.
      hoaxoner
      • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

        @hoaxoner
        You must be quite wealthy from your expert analytical skills.
        dave.smags
      • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

        @dave.smags
        So, $8 Billion for a video chat and VOIP software sounds like a good idea to you?
        hoaxoner
      • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

        @hoaxoner
        $8.5Bn / 750M = $11.33.
        dazzlingd
      • $8 B for VOIP and video chat...

        @hoaxoner

        No, but $8 B for 1) a huge increase in Skype usage -- even at 10% adoption of FB users, that's still 75 million... that's a 45% increase on their current userbase. 2) possibility for MS to serve up ads at least in the Skype channel (or to at least split the revenue w/ FB). 3) potential for further integration with FB and MS cloud offerings -- office 365, live, etc

        and 4) maybe most important. MS keeps Facebook and it's huge user base away from everyone else as much as they can.

        I'd say those 4 points, maybe the last point alone, is worth $8 B
        UrNotPayingAttention
      • Facebook is only the beginning for Sky integration,

        and there will are plenty of devices and services which Microsoft is targeting. <br><br>Besides, your math is way off, and you're also not considering that, Facebook and other integration is intended for the long run, and whatever investment was made to acquire Skype, has to consider ROI over a span of many years, not just the first or the first few.
        adornoe
      • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

        @hoaxoner <br><br>It is good to see Microsoft getting in on the action, I'm sure it is a good move even though the initial outlay for the acquisition is very high. Social networking really seems to be exploiding and facebook is leading the way. I am very surprised at how comfortable people are about sharing all of their personal information, photos etc. on a site like facebook, and just how much time they spend on it. This integration of skype is yet another method to keep people using their site, so I guess it makes good business sense.
        W35dy
      • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

        @hoaxoner <br><br>It is good to see Microsoft getting in on the action, I'm sure it is a good move even though the initial outlay for the acquisition is very high. Social networking really seems to be exploiding and facebook is leading the way. I am very surprised at how comfortable people are about sharing all of their personal information, photos etc. on a site like facebook, and just how much time they spend on it. This integration of skype is yet another method to keep people using their site, so I guess it makes good business sense.
        W35dy
    • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

      @LoverockDavidson You know, I don't always agree with everything you say but I agree MS buying Skype was a smart move on their part.
      smulji
  • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

    Copy of Google+ Hangouts, except it's way worse.

    Awesome.
    Droid101
    • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

      @Droid101 please please please....just say that you are using google+ and you have frendz on it and you will leave facebook soon and you dont have skype and none of your friends like facebook please please
      abhi.jamwal
      • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

        @abhi.jamwal

        "just say that you are using google+ and you have frendz on it and you will leave facebook soon"

        That's the plan.

        "and you dont have skype"

        I do. But they're not Facebook.

        "and none of your friends like facebook"

        Every time Facebook changes, yeah I get a lot of people I know complaining about it, and yeah I'm reminded that they're only in it because everybody else is - not because they actually like it. I'm trying to think of a friend that actually [i]likes[/i] Facebook . . . . . nope, drawing a blank.
        CobraA1
    • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

      @Droid101 What? Are you pissed off that you have no friends on Google+? Damn, that sounds just like your experience on Facebook.

      Imagine that.
      athynz
    • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

      @Droid101 <br>I'm with facebook, it's war against David and Goliath, Google, a behemoth that wanted to control all of Internet.
      Jeof Adriel
  • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

    I thought the whole point of Facebook "friends" was that they weren't people you actually knew or cared about? If that's the case, why would people want to talk to them? :-)
    jgm2
  • Makes a nice addition

    And I predict it will be a hit with the users.
    NoAxToGrind
  • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

    I'm trying to remember if it was James K or SJVN that thought the MS - Skype deal was stupid... Guess not such a bad move after all.

    Does MS get to serve up advertising within the Skype plugin?

    Also, does the video calls qualify as "uploaded content" and as such becomes the property of Facebook/ Skype (MS) ???

    If so, grab your popcorn.

    It least it will be more interesting for all the idiots who use FB to cheat on their spouses. Actually, this may decrease infidelity, as they can just open a video without having to go the physical route? (LOL... FB/MS should pull some Applesque marketing..."[b]We just saved 750 million marriages!!![/b]"

    All kidding aside, solid announcement from FB today; at least it wasn't something stupid like a 'facebook phone'
    UrNotPayingAttention
  • Google could learn a lot

    Facebook understands Web 2.0 and collaboration. 'nuff said.
    Your Non Advocate
  • RE: Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

    Big effing deal. Who gives a crap except for high-school kids? $8.5B for an antiquated P2P infrastructure, marketed towards an economic user base who is largely either perpetually unemployed or have not even entered the workforce? Sounds like an impending implosion is on it's way.
    frizzllefry