VOICE OVER IP (VoIP), chat and video conferencing outfit Skype has been talking up its future with the social networking web site Facebook.
Skype's recent acquisition by Microsoft puts it in the box seats to work with Facebook, allowing both firms to push VoIP services to Facebook's social network. Microsoft, which was an early investor in Facebook, doesn't view the social network as a threat and has worked with it in the past, especially with its search engine Bing.
However Facebook could be a big help to Microsoft as it tries to claw back some of the $8.5bn it forked over for a company that turns over a negligible profit. Forbes reports that not only will Skype appear on Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system but that Skype VP Neil Stevens wants Skype to be a service, not an application.
In order to make that dream come true ever tighter integration with other applications, and in particular Facebook, is on the agenda. As The INQUIRER reported last year, a VoIP service is the logical next step for Facebook, which needs to enrich its 'social graph' with more real time data. Having Skype provide a service to do just that will be beneficial for all concerned, except perhaps with regard to the privacy of Facebook users.
Stevens told Forbes that Skype's agreement with Facebook is not a "one-time, one-product" deal, adding, "We have a plan to build out a number of products with Facebook... we'll be Facebook's key partner for communications."
Facebook recently launched a video chat service that uses Skype, and Stevens said that most of the bugs have been ironed out and it will be rolled out to more users over the next few weeks. After it has rolled out that service Facebook will start to offer outbound calling to phones, requiring users to pay with Skype credits, though it is expected that Facebook will get a cut of charges for all call minutes from its users too.
Due to the popularity of Facebook, this might be the only chance Skype and its new parent, Microsoft, have of making money. History has shown that even though Skype is immensely popular, as a standalone application its revenue generation possibilities are relatively limited. Perhaps tagging onto Facebook's popularity will help Microsoft turn its fortunes around. µ