California, July 7 – Facebook added Skype video calling Wednesday in the face of a direct challenge from powerhouse rival Google in the social networking arena.
“We think this is awesome because we’re using the best technology that’s out there for doing video chat with the best social infrastructure that’s out there,” said Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. The new Skype feature comes with improved group text chat which allows for multi-person conversations and a camera icon that can be clicked on for instant one-on-one video calls with friends.
Speaking to reporters at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Zuckerberg said he “wouldn’t rule out” group video calls at Facebook in the future but that the “vast majority” of video conversations are one-on-one.
Google+, which the Internet search giant launched last week, includes a group video calling feature called “Hangouts” which has proved popular among early users.
Zuckerberg said plans to add Skype to Facebook began before Microsoft announced in May that it was buying the Internet voice and video leader for $8.5 billion.
He portrayed online social networking as being at a point where its momentum is unstoppable and said Facebook’s focus is now on fun or functional software applications that can be built on its platform.
“There is this clear arc where the world generally believes (social networking) is going to be everywhere,” Zuckerberg said. “In a matter of time it will be billions, whether it is us or somebody else doing it.” As ranks of social network users grow, the number of updates, pictures, videos and other content shared is rocketing, according to Zuckerberg. “We have 750 million users now and it is still growing quickly,” he said. “But the thing growing faster is the amount of sharing per user.”