Report: Skype & Facebook Planning ‘Deep Integration’

It makes a lot of sense. AllThingsD is reporting that Facebook and Skype are planning a “deep” integration, which may or may not (though probably will) extend into mobile. According to the blog post users will be permitted to call and SMS their Facebook contacts for free:

Skype had 124 million people using it at least once a month and 560 million registered users, which will be bolstered by the 500 million Facebook users who will now be able to use it more seamlessly within Skype.

That will include allowing users to SMS and call Facebook friends from Skype, which will now deploy Facebook Connect.

This should further boost Skype awareness and usage in the US, where it has fewer active users than outside the country. It will also add another “practical” dimension to Facebook. 

Indeed I’ve long thought that a more full-fledged “communications” role was out there for Facebook to seize or exploit. The company has gone some distance down this path (chat/video chat) but not anywhere near as far as it could. This deal may represent the beginning of the realization of that opportunity.

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While the service could be enormously valuable to end users, the big question is: will Skype make any money off this relationship and precisely how?

Skype now makes money when users buy accounts that enable them to call mobile phones or landlines. It also makes money on SMS. It appears that most of the services contemplated by the deal will be free, although some “Skypebook” users might also convert to paid accounts as well. 

The likelihood that most or all of the services will be free raises the prospect of ads. At one time, after eBay acquired it, Skype saw itself as a PPCall advertising platform and more recently the company has done a few PPCall deals with yellow pages publishers (e.g., European Directories).

There are certainly some interesting scenarios here where relevant ads could be injected into the user experience in a number of ways and either sold by Skype (unlikely) or use Facebook Ads with a revenue share to Skype. And because users will be signed in to Facebook (obviously) there are also some interesting potential targeting capabilities.