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The Good Intentions

Gordon Kelly


Facebook & Skype: Life Partners Or Fair-Weather Friends?

It is said we all have a perfect partner out there somewhere, waiting for us. Are Facebook and Skype one such couple?

According to a much publicised report (and grainy image - below) from All Things Digital it certainly seems as if the two have been enjoying secret rendezvous, snuggling up on the sofa and ending phone calls with "No, you hang up". It explains:

"According to sources close to the situation, Facebook and Skype are poised to announce a significant and wide-ranging partnership that will include integration of SMS, voice chat and Facebook Connect. The move by the pair–which have tested small contact importer integrations before–is a natural one for the social networking giant, which is aiming to be the central communications and messaging platform for its users, across a range of media."

The technology behind such a move seems simple enough: Skype will use the Facebook Connect API in its next major version (5.0 to be released this month) and they will cross pollinate one another (we'll keep the metaphors on theme) with the 500m+ users of Facebook and 560m users of Skype (124m believed to be active). Of course there is likely to be significant duplication between these two tech savvy groups, but the numbers boost won't do either company any harm with Skype planning an IPO and Facebook expected to follow suit within the next 18 months.

For consumers the news doesn't seem that exciting. There have long been third party solutions like Skype Me which have integrated the two services with varying degrees of success while Skype and Facebook apps appear across most mobile platforms.

Instead where their power lies is in a celebrity-esque super tech couple 'Skybook' – if you like – which would be able to use its joint might to take on all comers. The most obvious of these would be Google which has so far struggled to get into the social media space with Buzz or Orkut, but the rumoured Google Me and VoIP software Google Voice show its ambitions. The combination would also give Facebook more credence as a platform, particularly for the so-called Facebook phone allegedly in development since it would take the world's largest social network and integrate voice calls at its core.

That said I do foresee the potential for an almighty lovers' tiff…

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