As promised, Facebook had a big announcement this morning- they’re introducing group chat features within the regular chat application, updating chat’s design, and adding video chat through a partnership with Skype. These features will certainly help Facebook stay one step ahead of Google+, but shouldn’t outpace them- Google+ has group VIDEO chat, and Facebook haven’t created any additional customized privacy settings or safeguards, which is one of the main selling points of Google+ as a social network.
Partnering with Skype was a smart move because they’ll be able to help Facebook manage the huge changes coming for the site, and because to “Skype” someone has become synonymous with video chatting. My friends and I “Skype” each other using GChat all the time. Might as well join them, since you can’t beat Skype for branding.
What I thought was the most interesting takeaway from the announcement was the intro from Mark Zuckerberg discussing the way social sharing has grown exponentially over time. Zuckerberg placed a high emphasis on the responsibility Facebook has to maintain this “social infrastructure” while moving their resources away from developing apps. Zuckerberg said apps are best left to specialists, meaning for the most part Facebook apps will now be the purview of third-party developers. Sorry guys, you might have to make that music-sharing service yourself.
This falls in line with Facebook as a platform, a concept they’ve moved toward for a few years. In a post-Myspace world, I’m glad to see that Facebook is still interested in competing and adding new features to keep up, but I appreciate that they know their place as well. And good news for app developers- I hope this means that Facebook will reach out even more to developers and offer them the resources they need to build apps that fully realize the potential of the Facebook platform.