Technology

The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

Facebook unveils video calling with Skype, has more than 750 million users [Updated]

July 6, 2011 | 10:18 am

Screen shot 2011-07-06 at 10.28.02 AM

Facebook is announcing a new product -- which CEO Mark Zuckerberg said will be "something awesome" -- and you can watch the unveil here, on the Technology blog, live below.

At the announcement, Zuckerberg said the social network (which is the most widely used in the world) has passed 750 million users.

Updated 10:30 a.m.: Zuckerberg just announced that Facebook's new products all have to do with chatting -- video calling with Skype, group chatting and a new design for chatting products.

Groups chats will give users the ability to do an "ad-hoc group chat" so they can chat (by text, not video) with a group of friends they create on the fly, Zuckerberg said.

All the new chat features will have a new design that changes depending on how large a user's browser window is -- either showing a small chat box for smaller windows, or rolling out a larger vertical list of those available to chat with when a browser window is wider.

"If we can make it so people have the screen width to run normal Facebook and have a buddy list we think that will be very powerful," Zuckerberg said, adding that Facebook is "already one of if not the biggest chat network in the world."

Updated 11:04 a.m.: Zuckerberg said Facebook's video calling feature is powered by the same peer-to-peer technology that powers Skype's current free video calling apps.

Screen shot 2011-07-06 at 10.39.42 AM Video chats in Facebook will work in the same menus as text chatting, but open a new video window over the top of a user's Facebook session when a call is accepted, he said.

"It's so easy, so minimal to use," Zuckerberg said.

Tony Bates, Skype's CEO, also joined Zuckerberg at the announcement, stating that the company has a goal of reach 1 billion users for its communications products and its partnership with Facebook will help further that.

"Skype's mission has really been to make communications as pervasive and ubiquitous as possible," Bates said. "Obviously this is going to be propelled now with Facebook."

Bates also said Skype's infrastructure should be able to handle the expected load Facebook users will add on the service, noting that the company currently sees its users chatting by video about 300-million minutes a month.

"I think we have a shared vision of what social communication can mean and there's no finer social network to build this on top of," Bates said of Facebook.

Zuckerberg said that it has worked with Skype for about the last 6 months to develop the video calling feature, which was before Microsoft's bid to buy the Internet calling service.

But Microsoft's purchase of Skype, which still needs to be approved by federal regulators, doesn't hurt things a bit as Facebook and Microsoft are have a "really good relationship" with partnerships on ads and now Bing powering search in the social network.

Watch live streaming video from facebookannouncements at livestream.com

RELATED:

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook to 'launch something awesome' next week

Could Facebook's announcement next week be Skype-powered video chat?

Chinese government may be looking at buying 'huge chunk' of Facebook shares

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles and Jessica Guynn

twitter.com/nateog

Images: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announcing new chat products for the social network on July 6, 2011. Credit: LiveStream/Facebook

Comments 

Advertisement










Video