Facebook And Skype Close To Signing Deal

Sources close to Skype and Facebook have claimed that the companies are close to signing an integration deal.

The partnership will include the integration of SMS, voice chat and Facebook Connect into Skype to make Facebook a central communications and messaging platform for its users, according to AllThingsDigital.

The rumours could be seen as another potential blow to those in the industry who thought that Cisco may be getting ready to buy Skype, particularly coming so soon after Skype's joint VoIP marketing deal with Avaya signed only a couple of days ago.

Skype did not return requests for comment, and Facebook told V3.co.uk that it does not respond to rumours.

"We work with big companies around Facebook integration of features like the 'Like' button on their web sites," said a Facebook spokeswoman.

Layering Skype functionality over Facebook's contact networks and communities makes sense, according to Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca, who described Facebook's appeal as a readymade "phone directory".

Bamforth agreed that Skype needs to make as many strategic alliances as possible to safeguard its future as a leading independent IP communications provider.

"I think the traditional operators have got it wrong when it comes to unified communications, because they are tackling convergence at the network end rather than at the end-user, social networking end," he said.

"I think that social networks are becoming the centre of gravity for convergence and unified communications by offering a ready-made contact directory, where the link between contacts as friends, networks and communities becomes critical."

Bamforth also believes that the prospect of a Skype-Facebook tie-up will prove attractive to businesses as much as consumers, because many SMEs already use Skype and "one of the only features unified communications offers beyond that is presence".

"So, with the younger generation already using both, as well as businesses having their own Twitter and Facebook profiles, it's going to be hard to draw the line between using these services for business or personal use in the workplace. And they will need to protect it and make sure it is compliant," he said.

"Even if this deal turns out to be just rumour, it points to a natural evolutionary step of bringing together community and communication technologies, where the blending of external and internal contacts across networks would be particularly attractive and useful to enterprises, as well as consumers."

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