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July 06, 2011

Facebook Intros Group Chat, Buddy List, and Video Chatting with Skype

By Juliana Kenny, TMCnet Web Editor

Facebook’s (News - Alert) much-anticipated announcement today kept listeners waiting for over 15 minutes on the Facebook Live page as the ticker counted the increasing numbers of listeners, which topped off somewhere near 55,000, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg (News - Alert) announced the company’s new integration with Skype for video chat.

Revealing three new features, Facebook is planning to issue group chat over instant messaging, a new buddy list feature, and video calling incorporating Skype’s (News - Alert) platform.

Zuckerberg noted that, in real time, users can simply click “call” with a friend who is online at the same time, and the other user can download a video plug-in within minutes to start a video chat. The already-existent software on the social infrastructure of Facebook makes this video chat capability simple.

This new development looks remarkably similar to GChat – a function of GMail from Google (News - Alert), which allows video chatting capabilities much in the same vein.

Zuckerberg preceded this announcement with a lengthy description of the recent work the company has been doing to anticipate what will be needed on the social media side of technology for years to come. He noted that social networking has been about connecting people over the last five to seven years, that we have measured the power of social networking through the amounts of people connecting on the platforms.

Noting the importance of this progression, Zuckerberg suggested that the future of social media will be more focused on the amount of what users share rather than the user number itself. “That chapter is done at this point. There is this clear arch that the world generally believes [social media] is going to be everywhere. The metric has been about user growth. The next five years is not going to be about wiring up the world.”

Projecting that the future will hold exponential growth in sharing through social networks, Zuckerberg threw in the age-old adage about how if you fold a piece of paper 50 times over, it will be tall enough to go to the moon and back several times. Citing the human inability to comprehend exponential growth, he said that sharing on Facebook has grown exponentially over the past year, and exponentially from the year before that. The years to come will inevitably hold equally as exponential growth in terms of the amount of data shared, and Facebook is going to be ready for that.

“If you plotted out the amount of stuff people are sharing, it’s growing at this exponential rate. The amount they share today is twice as much as they shared a year ago. This is not a Facebook phenomenon, it’s an Internet phenomenon,” stated Zuckerberg. “We hit 750 million users, but we didn’t announce it because we don’t think it’s the metric to watch anymore. The thing that’s growing even faster is the amount of sharing per person.”

The new private communication channels being made available beginning today, July 6, from Facebook will certainly emphasize this growth in sharing.

Juliana Kenny graduated from the University of Connecticut with a double degree in English and French. After managing a small company for two years, she joined TMC (News - Alert) as a Web Editor for TMCnet. Juliana currently focuses on the call center and CRM industries, but she also writes about cloud telephony and network gear including softswitches.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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