Yesterday, Facebook and Skype announced a partnership that creates a new feature for Facebook users called Facebook Video Calling. By using an embedded version of Skype’s audio/video service, Facebook users can start a video call with their friends without having to download or install Skype.
I decided to open up a Google+ hangout and get the community’s take on the situation. To no great surprise, the general consensus was that it seemed to be too little to late if they had any hopes of responding to Google+ hangouts as their video calling feature lacks group functionality at the present time.
Mark, a member of the panel, pointed out that Facebook Video Calling doesn’t work with Linux, making it somewhat useless for that portion of their user base.
Panelist Liza echo’d points made by several of the panelists by stating that Skype and Facebook are both useful services, but the new partnership really isn’t enough of a benefit to create any real viable incentive to bring in a geek audience. In terms of their general audience, this might be exactly what users need to connect on a personal level and take their conversation to a visual realm.
One point that almost everyone agreed on was that Facebook will probably turn this agreement in to a big success thanks in part to the size of the user base and needs of their general audience. It’s easy as geeks to forget that everyday users are the ones that make up the bulk of the market, and for them, a 1-1 chat is enough. Facebook Video Calling is as close to seamless as it can be, and unless the bulk of their users are using Google+ Hangouts, they won’t have anything solid to compare it against.
Colin, another panelist, pointed out that while Hangouts are certainly a better product in its current form, Facebook will almost certainly polish the system and come up with a better overall implementation before long.
Overall, the panel agreed on many points, despite coming from a broad range of experience with the service. Will average users consider this new feature a revolutionary improvement to the social network? Only time will tell.