Facebook adds video chat feature developed in Seattle


by KING 5 News and Associated Press


Posted on July 6, 2011 at 7:15 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 6 at 6:00 PM

NEW YORK -  Quick on the heels of Google's launch of its latest social-networking venture, Facebook is rolling out video calls powered by Internet phone company Skype.

The feature was developed by employees at Facebook's Seattle office, said company CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who visited the office last week.

Kristi Waite, social media account manager for Seattle-based PRR, was quick to test out the video technology Wednesday.

"I clicked one button to be able to chat," Waite said.  "I mean it was super easy."

The new feature has implications for Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, which is in the process of acquiring Skype for $8.5 billion. Microsoft also owns a piece of Facebook, paying $240 million in 2007.

"Microsoft has its fingerprints all over this one, even though it wasn't directly involved in any parts of this deal," said Todd Bishop of GeekWire.  "The company is aligning itself with strong players in the Internet industry more broadly through partnerships, acquisitions or investments."

The question now for Skype is how to make money off of this service, Bishop said.

During Wednesday's news conference, Skype CEO Tony Bates said the company plans to offer paid products in the future.  For now it's focused on trying to broaden its reach.

Facebook said Wednesday that it is also rolling out a group chat feature. Facebook users can now create instant group chats if they want to quickly message a small group of their friends.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook now has 750 million users. And they share 4 billion things such as photos, links and status updates on the site every day.

Google opened up Google Plus last week on an invite-only basis.