Economy

Facebook's 'Awesome' Announcement: Video Calling

Facebook summoned media to its headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. today for what CEO Mark Zuckerberg said would be an "awesome" product launch.

Zuckerberg, in his customary laid back t-shirt and jeans, prefaced the announcement by saying this marked the beginning of "launching season 2011."

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Zuckerberg said Facebook is launching group chat, a new chat design and, as expected, Facebook will now feature video calling.

The announcement comes just as Google launched its own social network called Google+, which emphasized privacy and had features like group chat and video calling built in.

Zuckerberg said Facebook's video chat will work through a partnership with Skype.

The announcement is still happening so we'll update this post.

Update at 1:38 p.m. ET. It's 'Easy':

Philip Su, a Facebook engineer, acknowledged that some might be thinking, "What's the big deal?" Video calling has been around for a long time. Google has had it integrated to their email program and to their new social network.

Su said the difference is that this is easy. He said there's no need to sign up for a separate account and all it takes to initiate a video call is a 30 second download. Su said the key here is that your least tech-savvy friend will be able to video chat with you.

Update at 1:45 p.m. ET. Group Video Chat:

Zuckerberg said he "would not rule out" group video chat in the future. He was asked a question about Google+'s hangouts, a feature that allows group video chat and one-on-one video chat, but Zuckerberg didn't address the question directly. Instead, he said the fact that companies like Google are moving into the social space was "validation" for Facebook.

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