Facebook introduces Skype video calling

It's the first of many announcements to come in the next few months, Facebook said

Facebook on Wednesday announced a new video chat capability it will roll out in conjunction with Skype, in what the social-networking giant said is the first of many announcements of new applications to come in the next couple of months.

Users will be able to click a button in Facebook to call a friend. If the friend does not already have the plugin required for video chat, the friend will see a pop-up to download the plugin. That download should just take 10 or 20 seconds, said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, during a webcast press conference on Wednesday.

"This is possible because the social infrastructure exists," he said. "The system knows we're connected and we have the pipe open between us so new applications can flow between us."

Zuckerberg described Facebook as a platform that allows these kinds of new applications to be easily used. He also sought to set Facebook apart from competitors because Facebook plans to partner with companies like Skype that are focused on specific technologies.

"We want to leave all the applications to independent entrepreneurs and companies that are going to be best in class at building these things," he said. "That's a different strategy than other major Internet companies out there who try to do everything themselves."

That may have been a dig at Google, which recently launched its own social-networking service that includes features primarily built by Google.

In addition to video chat, Facebook also said it plans improvements to its group chat function and will roll out a new design for its text chat interface.

Zuckerberg also confirmed that there are 750 million Facebook users. Future growth, however, won't be measured by number of users but by how much people share on Facebook, he said. Currently, users share 4 billion things every day, he said. Facebook plans to continue to announce new features that will encourage people to share even more in the future, he said.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
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