Facebook gets message across with Skype

Mark Zuckerberg went for a walk through his neighbourhood on Wednesday morning, just before the much-hyped press conference where he was to announce Facebook’s latest “super awesome” feature. A man stopped him, saying he hoped the feature would be video chat, so he could talk to his grandson over Facebook. It was.

Mr Zuckerberg later outlined the company’s integration with Skype, which allows Facebook users to place video calls to friends and family with one click. The person receiving the call clicks to accept, and the Skype feature will download in less than 30 seconds, eliminating the need for either person to leave Facebook or go through the more onerous process of downloading Skype.

One of Facebook’s weaknesses in the past has been rolling out new features that were too complex for users to understand and implement in their daily lives, said Susan Etlinger, an industry analyst with the Altimeter Group. The video calling feature, she said, is the opposite: “It’s a sign of discipline that they announced a very simple and clean first implementation of it.”

Mr Zuckerberg promised that group video chat and mobile video chat are in the works. These innovations are transforming Facebook into a new kind of telecommunications platform, wrote David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect.

“It is a far cry from being merely the website your kids use to arrange to meet at the mall,” he said.

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