Facebook has 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 or contact. 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.
The move offers some benefit to business, particularly the increasing numbers of executives and sales people who now see Facebook as a key tool for staying in touch with colleagues, customers and sales prospects. A simple click will take them from a text interaction to video chat.
"This is possible because the social infrastructure exists," said Zuckerberg. "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.