Facebook is testing out a new feature, which allows users to call their Facebook contacts for free. Facebook first tested out the new calling option in Canada and is now slowly rolling it out in the United States. At present, the new calling feature only works with the Messenger application for iPhone, iPads and iPod Touch devices. It is likely that Facebook will eventually include Android and other platform devices into the calling party soon.
At present, there does not appear to be a huge benefit to the new calling feature since many cellular phone plans already include unlimited minutes. However for those without an unlimited calling plan, they can make Facebook calls only to their Facebook friends at no charge to their minute plan; however it does take usage from the data portion of plans. Facebook’s intent with the new calling feature is that it will be an added convenience to users already chatting that want to continue the conversation over the phone. Once all types of phone platforms are enabled to free Facebook calls, the real benefit to users would be if international calling is allowed between countries. The Facebook calls are basically VOIP, or voice over the internet, and call quality and connectivity will still depend on the connection, however as the technology is improved upon, Facebook users will likely use the calling service quite a bit, giving users more reason to use Facebook and stay connected with friends.
What is the potential benefit for Facebook? We all know that Facebook is still a business and especially now that it is publicly traded company, it needs to make money. If the calls are free, then one can only assume Facebook benefits from the feature not only because users are more engaged with the service, but Facebook is able to collect data on call usage. This data can be used to aide in their ad targeting and learn more about their users, demographics, locations, and habits. Having a phone service also gives Facebook industry dominance over other companies, and while they are likely not venturing into the cell phone marketplace, Facebook is still positioning itself as a dominant, international force.
Author Bio: Brian Lakeman is author and Brand Manager for Activ8me NBN, AU’s premiere wireless provider.