Facebook’s integration of Skype is providing an introduction to video calling to many people who simply did not know that free video calling has already been available on the social network.
Facebook Skype is simply opening up the video calling market on a much larger scale. They are making video calling mainstream, educating and shaping consumers’ appetites.
Video on Facebook, used for one-to-0ne conversations, will mostly benefit parents, grandparents and sweethearts.
The challenge now is to find a way to provide purpose and meaning to a video call beyond seeing your sweetheart on the other side of the world.
With a soon-to-be exponential increase in the number of video calling users, there are plenty of opportunities for third-party providers to add value . The bigger challenge may be to avoid becoming just another crouton in the Facebook salad.
However, the good news is that this opportunity is already directly aligned with Facebook’s goals: To get you to spend more time on the site in order to show more ads and possibly click on more ads.
A Facebook Skype call may increase time on the site, but the increase will likely be small, as maintaining a conversation in a video call can often be difficult and even somewhat uncomfortable to embarrassing. We all can remember some specific examples of being heard or seen when we did not want to be.
Understanding two basic principles that we can guarantee will happen can help video chat innovators:
- Social networking will be with us for life. Facebook may or may not remain the leader in this category, but it will evolve quickly, with or without Facebook — and will look different three years from now.
- One-to-one telecom will still be the core way we communicate. This has not really changed in more than 100 years, which implies that it is due for a huge innovation push. There are some other trends that will happen supporting the evolution of communication, such as 3D cell phone sand 3D TVs.
The true opportunity lies in those services that can add value to the network by enabling users to show each other features or do things together in a call. A future visual call will keep a user engaged for a longer period of time, which we believe is what Facebook wants to promote.
As video calling services adapt to these changes, we will also see innovation and differentiation in the Facebook app world. Coupled with the number of people wanting to use video calling, there is tremendous innovation potential. Perhaps we’ll even see a live visual telephony app take over as the number one app?
In the mean time, I think it is important that video calling gains in popularity. It will be necessary to create an appetite for more stuff to do once users are used to hanging out in Google Plus and Skyping in Facebook — and have grown bored of just staring at each other’s faces.
In that sense, Facebook has taken a first step into video calling. However, platforms of visual calling are already being implemented that deliver an incredible range of shared live experiences possible. Stay tuned.
Guest writer Ron Stevens is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Mingleverse.