There’s been much talk about a Facebook Phone. But while the Facebook Phone (News - Alert) is just an idea at this point, mobile operator Orange has developed a social calling service that leverages Facebook not unlike a Facebook phone might.
Called “Party Call,” the Orange (News - Alert) mobile and desktop app lets people call their Facebook friends even if they don’t know the friend’s phone number.
“The big break in this plan as far as a Facebook (News - Alert) phone goes is the fact that it’s not Facebook that’s leading this initiative, it’s Orange using Facebook’s open API as any other developer would, working with Orange’s IP-based calling and messaging app Libon (Life is Better On),” wrote Chris Burns for SlashGear.
Libon lets smartphone users make HD calls using their existing cellular provider by going through the Orange Libon app, which currently is available for iOS but should debut for Android (News - Alert) in 2013, according to SlashGear. Libon also offers other unified communications features like addressbook, multiple voicemail greetings and chat.
Orange plans to offer the service in two tiers. One will be free, and the other will cost £6.99 a month and come with the ability to call contacts who haven’t yet connected with Libon, according to SlashGear.
Facebook naturally says it is excited by the technology; it cites Party Call as a great example of how developers can leverage its open developer platform to create social services, according to SlashGear.
“We are really happy that Facebook is transforming telecoms just as it has gaming, music, video and numerous other online services,” noted Facebook in the article.
A service such as Party Call could eventually change social dynamics if it catches on.
“Given the proliferation of Facebook, a successful debut of Party Call might turn the service in the next big disruption after Skype,” wrote Varun Raj for Android Authority. “Sometime in the close future, you might not need to ask for phone numbers, and instead you could just befriend people on Facebook to add them to your phone contacts.”
It also, in addition to being a test-case for the Facebook Phone, is yet another way telcos might be screwed.
“What does the launch of Party Call and similar services mean for the telecom players? Essentially, they’ll have another service that will attempt to rob them of the already dwindling voice revenues,” noted Raj. “Of course, Party Call is expected to compete directly with services like WhatsApp, Skype and Viber.”
So while there may or may not be a Facebook Phone in the pipeline, the promise of Facebook as a telecommunications advancement is already starting to be realized.
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Edited by Rachel Ramsey