Facebook CEO has said that his company will make a major announcement next Wednesday, and that it will be "awesome." And that's pretty much all it takes to get the tech world buzzing. It promises something big, but also keeps things mysterious so we can all speculate. And just as I was writing a post to weigh in and suggest that the product would be a Facebook video chat system, Michael Arrington at Techcrunch beat me to it.
Of course, he has more than speculation, he has sources.
Now, the Washington Post had thrown out a possible music service or an iPad app--which have both been rumored for a while. And that was a good guess. Techcrunch themselves earlier suggested it could be a new mobile photo app, which was also a good guess
Turns out, I was right, and it's a video chat system in partnership with Skype. Not that it was too tough to guess. Sooner or later Facebook was going to have to release a video chat system, especially now that other developers are getting it done. Part of the reason, of course, is simply that video in general, and video chat in particular, have been on the rise for some time now. Video chat is a product whose demand is rising.
But another reason it almost had to be video chat, is because of the recently launched Google Plus, a competitor social network. And easily one of the coolest features that Google Plus has over Facebook is called Hangouts. Hangouts are simply spontaneous group video chat rooms. You set up a Hangout, and let your various social circles on Plus know about it, and then any of them--or all of them--can come and join you in a group video chat session. I tried it out yesterday and it was pretty awesome.
Imagine being able to chat with a few select Facebook friends about a get together later that night... rather than having to message them all or post it on your wall. You can do that on Google Plus. and apparently, come next Wednesday, you'll be able to do it on Facebook as well.
Facebook's timing was rather obvious here. No matter what the announced product is, it'll take some headlines away from Google Plus. And that will make Facebook happy. Although, by all reports, Google Plus has been overwhelmed by the level of interest, and I've seen several positive reviews so far. It might take more than an over-hyped press release to truly stop its steam.
Which is exactly why I figured we were talking about something really huge, like video chat. What better way to steal the thunder from a new competitor than by duplicating one of its biggest selling point features inside of a week?
That would take some marketing punch out of Plus, don't you think? You can't say you're the only social network with integrated video chat if you aren't, you know what I mean?
Check back next week after the announcement, and unless Techcrunch is wrong, I'll have more details for you on Facebook video chat.