With Google+ dominating the headlines over the past week, some analysts managed to convince themselves that Facebook had no response to its new challenger. The social networking giant proved doomsayers wrong on Wednesday when chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg announced the introduction of a new video chat function using the popular Skype software.
CNET explains that the new video chat function will be be incorporated into the existing instant messaging system. The transition from text and video chats takes no more than two button clicks, and there is no need for a Skype account or any extra “paperwork.”
The inclusion of Skype in the new video chat ties Facebook even more strongly to one of the biggest players in the computing industry, Microsoft. Skype, one of the most popular online communication platforms, is in the process of being purchased by Microsoft for around $8.5 billion. The deal was recently approved by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, though the companies are still concluding the deal.
Despite some remaining uncertainty, Skype chief executive officer Tony Bates told CNET that he and Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer approached Zuckerberg almost immediately after announcing the proposed acquisition.
“It was for both of us, Steve and I, the most important strategic relationship,” Bates explained.
Microsoft already holds a strong connection to Facebook, including a 1.6 percent ownership stake the company bought for $240 million in 2007. CNET explains that this investment serves largely as a back route to attacking one of Microsoft’s primary opponents in the industry, Google, which conveniently happens to be positioning itself to challenge Facebook on its turf as well.
Microsoft was slow to develop its online capability and gave Google what appears to be an insurmountable lead in the online search field. StatCounter reports that Google garnered more than 90 percent of the search market, compared to little more than 3 percent for Microsoft’s Bing. Yet, last year Facebook passed Google as the site where people spent the most time, giving Microsoft a strong base from which to expand against its rival.
Despite the clear tensions and what seem like lines of battle across the internet, however, TechCrunch suggests the introduction of Facebook’s video chat feature hardly threatens Google+’s Hangouts. The former is exclusively used for one-on-one conversations, while the latter looks to be an incredibly promising group video chat features. The spontaneity of Facebook’s chat feature actually pushes it away from competition with Google, but could at least cut them off potential market.