Facebook and Skype are about to enter a partnership, according to All Things Digital, the Wall Street Journal tech blog.
According to Kara Swisher of All Things Digital, the two companies are "poised to announce" a "significant and wide-ranging partnership." Some features of the new partnership include allowing users to SMS and call Facebook friends from Skype, as well as the integration of Facebook Connect into the Skype platform.
Swisher also reports that video chatting Facebook friends via Skype will be available, as evidenced by a screenshot sent in by an unnamed source.
The report, if true, comes just a week or so after rumors of a Facebook phone popped up. On September 19, TechCrunch reported that Facebook was in the process of building a mobile phone platform, and working with a third party to build the hardware. TechCrunch reported that Facebook was developing its own mobile phone platform because it wanted to "integrate deeply into the contacts list and other core functions of the phone," and it could obviously only do this if it controlled the platform.
Now it looks like Facebook might be trying to get into the phone thing from a different angle -- Skype is one of the leaders when it comes to Internet telephone calls, with more than 560 million registered users and 124 million of those people using it at least once a month. Add this to Facebook's 500 million users, and, well, you've got a decently sized audience.
Skype is an application that allows users to make voice and video chat calls over the Internet. While Skype to Skype calls (over the Internet) are free, Skype charges a very low fee for calls made to landline and mobile phones.
Both Facebook and Skype will likely benefit from this partnership -- not only will Facebook be able to add voice- and video-chatting to its repertoire of features, but, as Swisher points out, it will help Facebook on the international front (as Skype is rife with international users). Skype, on the other hand, as a Web-based phone service, could certainly benefit from Facebook's extensive and thorough list of users' contacts.
The Facebook integration into Skype is expected to show up in Skype's latest version (5.0), which is currently in beta but will be available in a few weeks.