Could Facebook's announcement next week be Skype-powered video chat?
Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that the world's most popular social network will announce "something awesome" next week.
On Friday, press invites and a Facebook event page for the July 6 announcement went out and the website TechCrunch reported that "something awesome" might end up being a new video chat feature built in partnership with Skype, the popular video chatting and Internet calling service that Microsoft bought for $8.5 billion in May.
If that's the case, the move would come at an interesting time for Facebook. Google launched Google+ this week in a bid to counter Facebook's social networking dominance.
And while Google+ doesn't offer too much that Facebook doesn't match, it does have a feature called Hangouts where Google+ users can initiate group chat sessions and friends on the service can drop by spontaneously.
Currently, people looking to video chat with their Friends have to leave Facebook to do so -- heading to Skype, Apple's FaceTime software, Google Talk and now Google+ Hangouts.
We won't know until next week whether TechCrunch's report, which cites unnamed people with knowledge of such an agreement between Facebook and Skype, is true or whether Facebook+Skype will go head to head with Google+ Hangouts.
But the move would make sense for Facebook both in fending off Google and strengthening its ties with Microsoft -- another Google rival -- which includes integration between Facebook and Microsoft's Bing search engine.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screenshot of the Facebook event page for the social networks new product announcement next week. Credit: Facebook