Facebook will be making a big announcement tomorrow and there are wild speculations of what they could be announcing tomorrow. There are few big things doing the round of rumor mills today including a deeper integration with Skype to bring voice and video chat to Facebook, announcement of Facebook Phone or the resurrection of Project Titan, an email service from Facebook.
So which of these sound more realistic? Let’s take a look at each situations and how it would work out for Facebook.
Acquisition of Skype or Deeper Integration With It
Facebook provides users with an option to chat with their friends, but it is limited to text right now. Adding voice and video chat to Facebook would definitely be a win win situation for them, because most Facebook users would love to interact and share through these mediums rather than having to just do text. Facebook would also be able to capture a huge market of instant messaging users if they add this feature.
So where does Skype fit in? Skype is definitely one of the most popular voice and video software which is heavily used for individual chat, group chats, conferencing and podcasting among other things. Integrating it with Facebook would bring a much needed feature to site, allowing users to do something for which they have had to use separate clients.
Recently Gmail also added a feature to allow users in US to call mobile phones and landlines in US for free and to make calls to other countries for a small charge. Imagine giving 500 million Facebook users the same benefits and you would have more and more users and advertisers running towards them.
This makes me very optimistic that Facebook would announce some sort of partnership with Skype tomorrow.
The smartphone market has exploded and there are tons of players in it. There were rumors about the Facebook Phone which were later confirmed. However, announcing a phone which just tightly integrates with Facebook is not going to bring in customers.
If Facebook is doing a phone it has to do a lot more than just contacts and events. It has to allow users to make use of the entire Facebook platform including games and apps.
For example, if the Facebook event app could integrate with the Calendar, it would make it easier to schedule events and then invite contacts from your phone itself. However, I am now very keen on seeing a Facebook Phone tomorrow.
Facebook Email – Project Titan
Project Titan was a secret project rumored to being developed by Facebook. According to people who were in the know about the project, it is an email system similar to several available today and would allow users to access email through POP or IMAP and send email through SMTP.
Users would be get a @facebook.com email address to send and receive emails. Though not much information is available about this project, it could definitely be something Facebook would want to do.
Take a look at some stats. Hotmail has 360 million users, Yahoo Mail has ~303 million users and Gmail has ~200 million users. Now, Facebook currently has over 500 million users, if they launch email they become the biggest email provider in the world, albeit if all of their users actively use it.
The email system combined with voice and video chat would ensure that people would get everything they want on Facebook itself, rather than having to use multiple services. This also has huge revenue potential for Facebook, because people would spend more and more time on the site to check emails, chat and have fun too.
Note: Yahoo and Gmail email users are estimates from Wikipedia and other sources. Hotmail users is actual count sourced from a recent Microsoft press release.
All of these are mere speculations, but looking at how Facebook has grown in the past few years, they might hit their peak at one point of time, and adding some or all of these features definitely make sense for them, both for growth as well as for revenues.
So what do you think will Facebook reveal in their announcement tomorrow? Any wild guesses?