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Why Skype just added deeper Facebook integration

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Skype today introduced a new beta version for Microsoft Windows (s msft) users that adds support for several Facebook features. Skype for Windows 5.5 brings instant messaging, integrated Facebook contacts, and the ability to “Like” or comment on a friends Facebook status directly through the Skype application. The free beta software also adds some general fixes and changes, such as a new call control toolbar, an easier way to save a phone number and visual improvements when placing a call on hold.

Fixes to core functionality are always nice, but for two reasons, the bigger story is the heavy Facebook integration. First, Facebook continues to become the de facto contact database for many. Smartphones of various platforms already pull in and sync Facebook contacts directly into the handset’s contact application. And why not, when it resolves the challenge of keeping your contacts updated? Put another way: Why should I spend time managing my contacts’ ever-changing information when it’s likely they are already doing so and I can have the information pulled down automatically?

Second, the addition of Facebook interaction with a Skype client opens up Facebook to a wider audience at a time when Facebook growth may have stalled. Skype says that in the fourth quarter of 2010, it averaged more than 145 million connected users per month. That’s smaller than the 600 million active Facebook accounts, but surely not all Facebook users are also Skype users. The Skype user base is also very active, using the service for 207 billion voice and video calling minutes last year. The new integration in Skype could help Facebook add to its subscriber base even as some data this month shows the service may have lost subscribers in the U.S.

Om has suggested a number of times that Facebook simply buy Skype, but of course, it’s too late now as Microsoft has already made the investment to the tune of $8.5 billion last month. Facebook appears set to leverage Skype regardless of that deal and it doesn’t have to spend billions to do so. The integration with Skype on the desktop is likely just a start: Between Facebook phones and smartphones that have Skype support, I think this will have even more impact when Skype adds Facebook integration on handsets in the future.

Update: Some of the Facebook integration in Skype for Windows appeared in October of last year, although Skype today is reporting it as new functionality. However, the I believe the partnership will continue to remain strong and go even deeper in the future for the reasons mentioned above.

6 Responses to “Why Skype just added deeper Facebook integration”

  1. Bakari

    What’s not being widely discussed is the implications this has for upcoming features on the Windows Phone series!

    Facebook is already tightly integrated into the core of WP7. Since Microsoft just picked up Skype, it’s logical to assume that this same video service is going to come to the WP7, possibly in a post-Mango update or cooked straight into WP8, which will likely co-release with Windows8. I’ve already read on the official Windows Phone blog that they’ve finished the engineering cycle for Mango and have moved onto the next step.

    This could all have potentially enormous effects on WP7’s sluggish sales as it would become clear to even the average Facebook user that Microsoft and Skype are coming with the best out-of-the-box experience for mobile social networking. Combine this with the international reach of their partnership with Nokia, and you’re going to have a TON of new Facebook/WP7/Skype users – directly competing with Google+ and Apple’s Facetime.

    I would not put it past Microsoft to also link all this up with their X-Box Live platform which is slated to get the Metro UI along with Windows 8. Since the Kinect is basically a modded web-cam, that would mean cross-platform social-video-networking from any device in their ecosystem!!!

    This is all MUCH bigger news than people are making it out to be.

  2. Does anyone else think this is a trend leading towards not having to go to at all to use Facebook? You can use facebook on Skype, browsers, apps, etc. I personally waste a lot of time on Facebook because I’m waiting for a response in a chat conversation. This eliminates that annoyance. Yay! If you want to read more about the integration, I wrote an article here:

  3. Jack C

    This “if you can’t beat em, stay in-between em” strategy makes a lot of sense and it doesn’t preclude you from competing head-to-head either.