Tech wrap: Facebook zooms into video age

July 6, 2011

Starting today, Facebook users will have the option of holding one-on-one video calls with their friends directly from their account on the social network. The new Skype-powered video service marks a renewed effort by Facebook to cement itself as the go-to communications hub on the Web and serves as a response to Google’s recently launched Hangouts app, a similar video chatting feature that lets users on its Google+ social network chat with up to 10 people at once.

Facebook’s video chat will be embedded directly into the site’s messaging platform and won’t require users to sign up for Skype separately to use it. Skype stands to see a big boost from the partnership seeing as it could open it up to a whole new set of users.  So how does Facebook’s video chat compare to Google’s? TechCrunch finds there’s little overlap at this point between the two services, arguing the former is well-designed for one-on-one pow-wows whereas the latter is better suited to group chats. In addition, Facebook unveiled a new group-messaging feature that lets users take part in text chats with multiple friends.

Remember that man who was accused early this year of hacking into AT&T’s servers and stealing personal data from 120,000 Apple iPad customers? Well, he was indicted on Wednesday by a Newark, New Jersey grand jury with one count of conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computers and one count of identity theft. The charges come two weeks after a co-defendant in the case pleaded guilty.

Twitter sent another message to investors that it plans to stay private for atleast a little while longer. People familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal that the microblogging service was looking to raise “hundreds of millions of dollars” in a new round of funding. That puts the company’s value at as high as $7 billion now. The Journal also has a digit-by-digit breakdown of the new valuation.

It’s early July and that means it’s time for media and tech moguls from all over to converge on Sun Valley, Idaho for the annual Allen & Co conference. Reuters correspondent Yinka Adegoke is on location and reports that attendees at this year’s conference will go beyond experimenting with digital services such as mobile TV and begin the work of figuring out ways to make them profitable by rethinking outdated business models. All eyes will also be on Fox News chief Rupert Murdoch, whose company now faces a public inquiry into allegations that its UK tabloid newspaper News of the World was involved in phone hacking.

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