Facebook the dominant online social networking platform is intensifying its competition with Google by offering a free VoIP video chat service similar to Vonage VoIP.
The introduction of the video chat function is designed in large part to fend off the threat from Google which recently incorporated that feature into its social network as an alternative to FaceTime for Apple’s iPhone.
Facebook also unveiled a multi-person chat feature that lets several people hold online conversations at the same time.
“We’re using the best technology that’s out there for doing video chat with the best social infrastructure that’s out there in order to create some really cool new scenarios,” Zuckerberg said during a presentation at the event.
Facebook’s video chat offering makes use of technology from Skype which is Vonage VoIP’s rival, which itself has been the target of an acquisition by Microsoft who agreed to buy the company in May.
“This is a really strategic long term deal between Skype and Facebook,” said Neil Stevens, vice president and general manager for consumer at Skype, in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “This isn’t just a one shot one deal implementation of a product. This is a long term relationship.”
Google’s new site, called Google+, includes Google’s maps and images, messages, comments and other content from selected groups of friends, as well as a video chat feature.
Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, invested $240 million in Facebook in 2007 and entered an agreement to sell ads on the social network.