7. July 2011 08:37
Perhaps the title is a little misleading but, as expected, Facebook’s new feature is video chat and it’s powered by Skype. The announcement didn’t contain any surprises and as well as finally bringing video chat to the Facebook masses it also allows Skype to increase its market share. Currently Skype has around 125 million active users while Facebook has racked up over 750 million.
The benefit to users is that it is now easier for them to start up video chats. There’s no need to install any software, register or set up new user accounts. Everything can be done from within Facebook. Once again, Facebook keeps pushing forward, never sitting back and happy with what it’s got. Although video chat is nothing new, it is new to Facebook and the easy access for 750 million users is a huge advantage. If just one-in-ten Facebook members began using video chat then that would mean a whooping 75 million from the start. What remains to be seen is whether users will take up this new service or how quickly they will adapt to it. Like many advances in technology this has been around for a long time but until the market is ready for it, it won’t be successful. This could be the time when video chat becomes the norm.
The first key to success is having a wide user base… check. I think 750 million covers that. Next, people need to see how great the new features are, how useful they can be and how much fun they can have with it. It needs something to pull people in. Only last week Google released Google+ and gave us, what they call, ‘Hang-outs’. Google’s draw is that it allows users to set up group video chat with more than two participants. It’s a nice idea but I wonder if it’s just the wrong time for it to take off. Facebook haven’t given us a group option (not just yet anyway) but what they have done is allow users to leave video message for their friends. I’d bet your good money that this will turn out to be a key feature. Historically, there are two main types of Facebook users; the proactive (those who go around ‘friending’ everyone) and the passive (those that sit back and ‘accept’ the changes). The video message feature will allow those proactive users to drag in the passive users where normally trying to get a passive friend online at the same time to set up a two-way video chat just wouldn’t work.
Video messaging when combined with smart phones also opens the possibility of extremely embarrassing late night calls. Remember that embarrassing voicemail? now imagine it with video… it’s not worth thinking about. On the other hand, if it’s not you leaving the video message then think how hilarious it could be! The only question is, who will slip up first? you or your friends?
This venture probably won’t generate much money for either company but what it will do is enable Skype to increase it’s market share and user base which could provide additional income down the line and it gives Facebook new functionality that it never had which might entice new users to join or help keep current users online more. The more people on the website and they longer they are on then the more potential revenue.