Facebook confirms 'awesome' Skype integration

Zuckerberg announces Skype partnership that will bring in video call, group chat capabilities

Facebook today said it is teaming up with Skype to bring video chat capabilities to users of the world's largest social network.

In a press conference at the company's Palo Alto, Calif. headquarters this afternoon, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's co-founder, unveiled the video calling and group chat capabilities.

The announcements come nearly a week after Zuckerberg teased that the company was working on an "awesome" event.

"The video calling is so great and it's so easy," said Zuckerberg, who today also confirmed reports that Facebook has surpassed 750 million users. "Your least-technical friend is going to be able to get online with video chat and get connected. You'll connect with your friends on the social network that already has all your friends."

Zuckerberg's statement, along with the new group video chat capabilities, both strike at Google, which just last week unveiled the Google+ social network that will compete with Facebook. Google+ includes a feature called Hangouts, which is akin to a video conference call.

Skype could be a useful and interesting partner for Facebook, especially with its impending $8.5 billion acquisition by Microsoft. Analysts have noted that in scooping up Skype, Microsoft can put the screws to Google, which reportedly had been interested in buying the company.

And analysts also noted that the purchase could benefit Facebook, also an increasing competitor for Google, over the long run.

Social networking service Facebook is hoping to connect its users face to face across the Internet. On Wednesday the company launched a video chat feature that was developed with Skype.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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