Facebook Taps Skype to Offer Users Video Chat Option

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday that a new video chat feature powered by Skype will be added to Facebook over the next few weeks. The move is seen as a direct response to the "Hangout" feature of Google+, which has been called the "Facebook killer."

"It’s Awesome!" said Zuckerberg in announcing Facebook’s partnership with Skype.

The Facebook founder unveiled the new Skype video integration at his company’s headquarters in Palo Alto.

The Skype-powered video chat feature will allow Facebook users to chat with up to 10 other Facebook friends.

Although Zuckerberg did not mention Google+ by name, his announcement is seen as a countermove to newcomer Google+. Prior to the Skype integration, Facebook had no video chat features.

Google+ has been considered a formidable opponent to Facebook. The alternative social network which launched last week has incited debate as to whether Google+ would dethrone Facebook like Facebook dethroned MySpace.

On the Hangout feature of Google+, users can talk over video with a group of up to 10 friends as they would if they were hanging out in person.

Although teaming up with a very distinguished video chat provider, reports have shown that the new application still has some limitations they need to improve before it is brought out to the public. For instance although calls are handled through Skype's own peer-to-peer networking technology, you can't make calls outside of Facebook to Skype contacts. Meaning if you had a Facebook account and your friend only had a Skype you wouldn’t be able to communicate.

Facebook and Skype have joined forces in the past, including a combination of various Facebook features into the Skype service. However, the latest venture is seen as the most strategic with video seen as the next step in the evolution of social networking.

The partnership could be greatly beneficial in the popularity of both respective companies. Facebook has more than 750 million active users while currently Skype has 170 million.