Since its launch one year ago, Facebook Chat has become a vital tool for keeping users on the site for longer periods of time, and Facebook has continued to enhance the service. Just last week, Facebook added Friend List support for Chat, letting users choose who they want to be visible to while online. Now, it appears Facebook may be preparing to add video chat soon as well.
The potential launch of a video chat service reflects Facebook’s desire to expand the communication applications it operates on top of its social graph. Many Facebook applications offer video chat, but operating such a service directly is in line with Facebook’s strategy to date of building out communication utilities directly, and is in line with user expectations for chat.
Such a move could also threaten other popular video chat services from Skype, Google, and others, as many users will prefer to use the tool that’s most integrated with their routine ways of communicating with friends. However, it’s also not cheap to build or operate.
In the end, video chat is a natural extension of Facebook’s synchronous communication tools that should continue to increase session length. And as more Facebook users are on the site synchronously, new product doors are opened – for Facebook, and for app developers.
Update: Facebook says the company has no plans to launch the feature for now. “We had been testing a video chat feature, but currently have no plans to launch it to users,” Facebook says.