Log onto the homepage of Facebook and you will see the comforting message – ‘Facebook – It’s free and it always will be’. But for how much longer as there are rumours that Facebook are launching a new video chat feature with Skype. At the moment, the only way for people to chat on Facebook is via an instant message facility but founder Mark Zuckerberg is set to make an announcement this Wednesday to ‘launch something awesome’. The rumours and reports are all indicating that Skype video chat is to be integrated into the site and these rumours have been strengthened by invitations for the event, which feature the picture of a face inside a speech bubble, appearing all over Facebook.
If Facebook are preparing to go into partnership with Skype, they would dramatically increase the amount of Skype users which currently stand at 170 million as compared to Facebook’s 750 million. It would also cement a future relationship with Microsoft as they bought Skype for $8.5 billion in May. Apparently, the hush hush project has been developed at Facebook’s Seattle office, where they played a central role in the development of Facebook’s unified mobile site, which was unveiled in March. There has also been speculation in recent weeks about certain mobile products that are possibly in development at Facebook, including the long-awaited release of a Facebook App for Apple’s iPad and a customised App for photo-sharing on the Apple iPhone. Advisors for Facebook say that people who use Facebook on mobile devices are twice as active on the service than users on PCs. It seems that Mark Zuckerberg wants to capture some of this market. ‘A trend is mobile… which means that instead of being just on a computer when you’re at a computer, you’re at a computer all the time,’ said Mr Zuckerberg.
If Facebook are to integrate a video chat service, it would surely lead to more users signing on and whereas before, people would only use the site for updating personal information and reconnecting with old friends, now the site would have a whole new impact on the way we communicate with each other. It may become the way we choose to communicate with our friends, by combining a social network site with all our personal information to hand and video chat, what simpler way to talk and exchange our most closest intimate details than by logging onto Facebook.
Still, we may have to wait until Wednesday as a Facebook spokesman declined to provide further details about Mr Zuckerberg’s comments. Mr Zuckerberg did have this to say however, “It means you can share more stuff and then the final thing is that people’s attitude towards sharing in society is changing. If you look back 30 years, I think people’s attitude towards wanting to put something out there would’ve been different from it is today, where now every high school student, college student has the opportunity to have a blog, or a Facebook account, or a Twitter account, and can use those things to share things and that’s much more of the norm now. I think instead of just primarily being afraid of the impact of that, now people are now primarily starting to see that actually can be very valuable.” I think he is right.