Facebook is quickly becoming the primary social communication channel in our everyday lives. Yes, primary. We spend much more time obsessively interacting with people on Facebook than we do by phone and for some a life-line. I think that they could take it one step further by implementing video chat capability — a functionality that has garnered 521 million users for Skype (not the only reason for its success). Apparently last year Facebook began to include hints in its code that it may be implementing such a feature, but no news of it has been released since.
ReadWriteWeb has a great piece about the social needs that Chatroulette — the video chat site that pairs people randomly — fills for users: the craving for peeking, face-to-face online, control, and the “no commitment effect.” I want to focus on the need for face-to-face communication with people.
I don’t have the numbers for this, and if you have them I would love to see them, but anecdotally I have a lot of friends that are growing discontent with social networking starting to feel impersonal or detached, at least when it comes to conversations and chats on Facebook. Short, brief blurts of conversation back and forth with friends or family. Waiting for the slow reply as their friends multi-task. The conversation can be disjointed. This experience is of course does not represent a majority of the people out there, and I don’t really mind my experience on Facebook chat (or other chat service), but I can still empathize.
More people want a face-to-face communication, especially with family members who are far away. The default right now is Skype, but not everyone has the service, and some people use Google Chat’s video feature. Again, not everyone has a G-mail account. Imagine if Facebook had an option for you to chat with friend using a video chat feature.
Next, this could be integrated into its mobile application, allowing you to chat and communicate with friends on-the-go (of course this would require phones with two video screens). Not sure if the folks at Facebook are working on this already, but I sure hope they are at least thinking about it. Would love your thoughts on this. Here is an example of what it would look like (taken from Facebook chat and G-Chat and meshed together):
So what say you Mark Zuckerberg?