Last week, CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg told reporters from Facebook’s Seattle office that they would be launching “something awesome” this week. Today, it was announced what that news was: Skype Video integration into Facebook. The original statement that oversold today’s announcement came hot on the heels of the Google+ announcement. It didn’t live up to the hype and seems to have people just ready to get back to waiting for their Google+ invite.
Facebook’s announcement actually introduced three new features, as described on The Facebook Blog. You are now able to see which friends you message the most in the new chat’s sidebar, create a Group Chat like the Google+ Huddle, and finally, you can use video calling through Skype integration within Facebook. Facebook Video Calling will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks but you can use it immediately at www.facebook.com/videocalling.
While the feature may not be that impressive now that it’s already been done with Google+ Hangouts, it may be enough to retain some Facebook users that otherwise may have jumped ship to Google+. The question with the overall trend is: Do they have to be mutually exclusive? Will people leave Facebook to join Google+ or will they live in both worlds? The incumbent has a big advantage but as anybody that grew up on 90’s technology can tell you, your friends decide where you’re at whether it be AIM, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, or Facebook and Google+. Has a battle of features just started? People vocally tend to dislike change so Facebook’s big footprint may actually be its downfall if it doesn’t have the flexibility to compete with Google’s new service.
Honestly, if Facebook’s announcement today was enough to scare the Google+ engineers, I just figured Google would open Google+ up to the public. Unfortunately, this doesn’t look like that catalyst. However, the rumor mill seems to have some good grounding with speculation that Google+ will be opened at the end of July. Things should start getting heated up then.