Friday, July 8, 2011

SKYPE TEACHES FACEBOOK

Posted by vishnu vardhan reddy boda at 12:39 PM

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-- At one point during Facebook's "something awesome" event on Wednesday, more than 60,000 people were simultaneously tuned online to an unassuming meeting room at the company's headquarters to watch Mark Zuckerberg and cohorts unveil a slew of new features for the social-networking site.
While that might not be quite on the level of a Steve Jobs keynote, it's impressive given the relative regularity of Facebook product launches and the lack of suspense surrounding the day's announcements (we've known Skype video chat was coming for nearly a week).
The ever-growing ubiquity of Facebook was certainly a focal point of Zuckerberg's remarks. He confirmed the company now has more than 750 million active users and shared a personal anecdote about an elderly neighbor conversing with him on Wednesday morning about the event and his desire for video chat.
Certainly, a sense that Facebook has "won" the social network battle seemed to permeate, with Zuckerberg saying that the era of connecting people -- forming the underlying social graph that makes Facebook work -- "is more or less done at this point."
It's with that backdrop that we learned -- or at least confirmed -- several things about Facebook and where it currently sees itself in the technology world.
Facebook is designing for the masses
While no small technical feat, Facebook's video calling features aren't remarkably innovative.
In fact, the first question Zuckerberg faced in the Q&A was about this week's hottest feature within the early-adopter set -- the "Hangouts" option in the new Google+ that lets you video chat with up to 10 people at once -- and why Facebook has no group-calling option.
The Facebook CEO pointed out that most Skype users simply use the one-on-one chat (though it would seem group video calling is on the product roadmap, eventually).
Facebook engineer Philip Su added in a blog post: "Video chat has been around for years now, but 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."
Of course, most everyone you want to talk to is on Facebook (Google+, barely a week old, is still invite-only). Delivering reliable one-on-one video chat is all that most of these people need to spend even more time on Facebook.
Don't expect big new Facebook 'features'
In Zuckerberg's words, Facebook sees itself as the social "infrastructure" of the Web. It sees the biggest innovation coming not from inside its own walls, but from others that build apps that leverage that infrastructure.
Skype's video calling is a good example of that, and in the months ahead, you can expect most big new Facebook innovations to involve notable third parties.
Zuckerberg mentioned Netflix -- which is working to add deep Facebook integration to its service -- as an example. Spotify, which is finally coming to the United States and is rumored to be developing a music service with Facebook, would be another.

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