Facebook has confirmed the much-anticipated tie-up with internet telephony firm Skype, which will allow users to conduct free video chats within the social networking site.
By extending chat features within Facebook to include video chat, Facebook and Skype are bringing together two of the most popular uses of internet technology, said Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive and founder of Facebook.
“We think it’s awesome, because we’re using the best technology for video chat,” Zuckerberg said.
The Skype announcement was set to herald a new way of thinking about social networking, Zuckerberg claimed.
So-called social software – encompassing social networking tools as opposed to long-standing communication technologies such as email, instant messaging or videoconferencing – is taking over the world, according to Zuckerberg.
“This is another step for Facebook to solidify it as a central platform for communication and connection across the globe,” said Sean Corcoran, analyst with Forrester Research.
Currently, Facebook users are limited to one-to-one video chats with their friends, unlike Google's Hangouts feature for its Google+ social network tool, which allows group calls. Zuckerberg promised more "premium" features would be added in the coming months.
"We would expect Facebook's video chat service to develop a strong mobile play given that at least half of Facebook's user base interact with the social network via mobile," said Eden Zoller, an analyst with market watchers Ovum.
But such developments may take some time. Currently, the video calling feature has not been extended to the Facebook smartphone app.
"We have nothing more to announce at this time but we are further exploring ways for people to connect with their Facebook friends through Skype," a spokesman for Skype told Computing.