Facebook rumoured to be developing VoIP functionality


Facebook

Social media giant Facebook looks set to take on Skype and Google for a slice of the domestic Voice over Internet Protocol (IP) telephony market.

It has so far remained tight lipped on the matter, but a screenshot has surfaced on the internet of what keen-eyed observers say is a ‘call icon’, and would explain the rumours about a Facebook phone said to be in the works.

This year looks set to be a breakthrough year for IP telephony. According to several surveys taken of small to medium enterprises in the UK and abroad, many businesses intend upgrading their business phone systems in 2011. There are obvious advantages to this – IP telephony is much cheaper than traditional landline technology, and it offers much more flexibility. As well as standard features such as voicemail and hunt groups, calls can be diverted to mobile phones carried by employees not present in their office.

Skype, which is designed for domestic use, integrated Facebook into a recent upgrade, but there is no suggestion as yet that Facebook will use it, fuelling speculation that it may create a voice client in-house.

Adding fuel to the fire was a recent job advertised by Facebook for a “Network Engineer – Voice”, which was promptly removed from the site.

Google’s own domestic IP telephony has achieved some popularity, but so far is only available in North America. There are no current plans to bring it to the United Kingdom or the EU, and neither it nor Skype are targeting business VoIP.

Should Facebook introduce a VoIP network, it will mark a fresh chapter in its struggle with Google. With the former lording over the social media market and the latter everything else on the web, it is becoming apparent that the two companies are seeking to do battle.