Facebook’s July 6 announcement and live demo of its new partnership with Skype was shadowed by the recent launch of Google’s social networking service, Google+.
At Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, and Tony Bates, CEO of Skype, demonstrated for the press “video calling,” which integrates Skype video chats into Facebook’s platform. Initiating a video call will require just a couple of clicks; people on the call would remain on Facebook’s site.
One of the first questions during the Q&A came from Mashable’s Ben Parr, who said to Zuckerberg, “I’ve got to ask, what do you think of Google+’s Hangout?”
Zuckerberg pulled a reverse bridge move. Instead of saying blandly that “it’s an exciting time for innovation for all companies” and then moving back to his own talking points about video calling and the new group chat text feature, he began his response by saying the partnership with Skype was “super awesome—we’re really excited about this.”
Just when it appeared he wouldn’t deal with the question about Google+ and its video chat feature, Hangout, Zuckerberg placed the new service from Google in historical context, suggesting that it was inevitable. “As far as the Google stuff goes, in terms of the narrative of all of this, the last five years have been about connecting people, and the next five years are going to be about apps,” Zuckerberg said. “There are going to be lots of apps coming from companies that are going to build on existing platforms, or for their own platforms…I view a lot of this as a validation of how [we think] this is going to play out. Every app is going to be social.”
Zuckerberg didn’t run from the question. In fact, he rambled a bit. His answer, instead of pitting one company against another, was interesting in itself. This is not about Facebook vs. Google, he was essentially saying—it’s about where technology is going.
And the underlying, very confident message from Facebook: We are helping to build the future—we are not afraid of it.