Like a lot of other folks, on Wednesday I was playing with the newly launched video chat capability on Facebook. Done in partnership with Skype, it brings video chat to the masses via the 750 million Facebook users out there.
First I chatted with Larry Lisser in San Francisco. Not a good experience. Grainy, laggy video, and bad audio synch problems. If this is what Facebook video chat is all about, I thought to myself, it’s going to be a failure. Next I talked with Dan York and his two year old daughter Cassie. Great experience, and entertaining as all get out due to young Cassie’s antics on the screen. Don’t tell Mrs. Saunders, but that little flirt was blowing me kisses the whole time! And the video was wonderful and in synch. Clearly the quality problems with Larry were simply network related. And then I chatted with Jim Courtney, where we quickly started digging through the nitty gritty of the user experience.
What do I love about Facebook video chat?
- It’s a little thing, but the window pops up on screen directly below my center-mounted web cam. It forces me to look into the camera when i’m chatting, which means that I’m meeting the other person’s eye, rather than looking at the screen.
- I can leave a video-mail message if the other person isn’t available. Why isn’t this in the standard Skype application?
- It’s SUPER easy to set up and use. For many people, Skype has an intimidating UI with a lot of options. Facebook video chat is pure simplicity. I could see my wife, or my brother-in-law, both of whom have resisted Skype until now, using this.
It’s probably not going to steal away today’s Skype user. The experience isn’t as rich, quality isn’t as high, and you have to be logged into Facebook to receive calls. Instead, Facebook video chat is a great compliment to Skype.
Bottom line: I don’t agree with Om Malik that this is a one-sided deal in Facebook’s favour. Like Andy Abramson, I think this is a good thing for Skype and for Facebook. Facebook gets a feature that will allow it to compete against Google +, and Skype gains an audience that they might not have otherwise had access to. It won’t be long before there are a billion video chatters on the planet, all using Skype technology, and that’s what Skype’s management wants and needs.
- HOW TO: Launch Facebook Skype Video Chat [PICS] (policyabcs.wordpress.com)
- Facebook Announcement: Skype-Powered Video Chat (huguesrey.wordpress.com)
- Facebook Launches Ad Hoc Group Chat, New Chat Design, And Video Chat With Skype (techcrunch.com)