Facebook is trying to work out a deal to integrate Skype's Internet phone service into the social network's site, according to reports.
The deal, which is expected to be announced in the next few weeks, would enable Facebook users to have a voice chat and video chat with their Facebook friends using Skype services, according to the Wall Street Journal reported. The report cited unnamed sources.
Neither Facebook nor Skype would comment on the reports.
"I like this move for both companies," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "Facebook is all about communicating with friends, but they've fallen behind other services, like Google and Yahoo , when it comes to things like audio and video chat. Skype is a mature and fully featured service that can give Facebook even more functionality than their competitors."
If the rumored move comes to fruition, Facebook would be firing back at Google , which announced last month that it would offer the ability to make phone calls over the Internet via its popular Gmail service.
Google's move was a blow to Facebook , whose core service is pulling in users who want to connect online. It also was a slap at Skype, which has long dominated the market for Internet phone service.
However, if the new deal goes through, both Facebook and Skype would be able to compete vigorously against Google.
"There's a lot in this deal for Skype," Olds said. "It would open up their service to all 500 million Facebook users and give them an easy way to get used to using their computers as phones or video phones. Skype offers computer-to-computer communications for free, but there are a lot of users who will opt for a paid account and the ability to call regular landlines, too. This could generate a large set of new paid accounts for Skype."
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
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