It all started on twitter…
So Facebook is launching a voice chat system called Vivox. According to Daniel Terdiman of CNET,
“The service, which is currently in closed beta, will allow Facebook users to have high-fidelity conversations with anyone on their friends list. Each user, however, will have to download Vivox’s plug-in. But once installed, the service works almost seamlessly with Facebook, and is intended for everything from one-to-one chat to large group discussions.”
When I read Nisha’s tweet, I agreed with her. I may be a little old school with my Facebook perspective, but I think I liked it best when it was a smaller, college focused network. It was a great niche (…one I happened to be in when it launched) that made great sense.
When the hail storm of apps pounded my friends’ profiles, the status of my relationship swtiched to “complicated,” and when text chat was launched, I laughed knowing I would never use it (that’s why I have gchat!). Facebook and I have since made up, and we were in a good place until I learned about this Vivox voice chat.
Due to a fairly busy day (..and my choice to hit the rooftop for sun during lunch), I had most of the day to ask myself: Is Facebook going too far? Are they approaching feature overload as Nisha said?
In an HBS article titled “Understanding Users of Social Networks,” professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski shares his view that “online social networks are most useful when they address real failures in the operation of offline networks.”
As the variety of technology grows in both type and function, so does the number of tools which aim to give you that all-in-one, one-stop-shop solution. Should Facebook serve this role? Do I really want a one-stop-shop social network – phone, email, tweet-like status posts, text chat and now voice chat?
My answer is yes and no.
No because I don’t really see myself using this to chat with my friends on a 1:1, but yes because of the tremendous ability to connect on the group level. One example where this might work is for group trips.
A group of my friends used Facebook to plan our trip to our high school reunion. We are spread out all over the eastern seaboard, and though we maintained contact with some better than others, we were all still Facebook friends. It made sense to use the network to gather everyone to work out logistics of the trip. No phone numbers needed. No need to track everyone down. We were all connected there.
Chat could be a nice addition here, and with the right strategy, I can also see bold, trendsetting brands benefiting from this as well.