Social networking firm Facebook has gathered journalists at its Palo Alto headquarters today for a major announcement rumoured to be a tie up with Skype.
Founder Mark Zuckerberg set the rumour mill into overdrive last week when he revealed that the firm would announce something "awesome" on Wednesday.
Some have guessed that it could be the launch of a dedicated iPad application, but it is more likely that Zuckerberg will announce some kind of deal with Skype which could give Facebook users the ability to make VoIP calls from the site.
The event is set to kick off in the next few minutes and we will be live blogging here:
0947 The world's press is currently camped out in the Facebook parking lot waiting to get into the event - good thing Silicon Valley is sunny today. It's looking like the start will be delayed until 1015, news that has The Wall Street Journal and others freaking out. Never travel without a wireless hotspot.
1005 We're in the building at least. Currently hanging out in the canteen waiting for the show to kick off. Hoping Skype will be here for questions, it could be a very interesting Q&A.
1015 Zuck takes the stage. This event starts the 2011 launch season, lots of fun stuff to announce in next weeks and months.
1017 Social networking at inflection point. For past five years talk has been around connecting people. That's interesting, but until recently there was an open question whether social networking would be mass-market. That chapter is done, he said.
1019 Past five years have been about user growth. Next five years will be about social applications. The leading companies are developing for social selling. No-one measures internet success in user numbers, so why should it for social networking?
1021 Sharing is exploding. People are sharing twice what they were last year, and will double sharing annually. It's not just a Facebook phenomenon; it's across the whole internet.
1022 Facebook now at 750 million users, but numbers aren't important. Moore's Law applies to sharing, so Facebook is looking ahead.
1028 Whole host of sharing apps coming up this year, with three today. First off, group chat in Groups that can be started on the fly. Secondly a new chat design, and finally the expected video calling.
1031 Video chat developed with Skype. No need to download Skype to use it, can download software in 10 seconds when calling via Facebook. No group video calls. Zuckerberg says Facebook will focus on the infrastructure and let third parties develop the apps. "Independent entrepreneurs will always be better than a company trying to do a million things." A not so subtle dig at Google.
1036 Video demo. There's a single click on the chat box and it fires up the video. Quality looks good, excellent frame rate but you'd expect that for a demo. Certainly looks smooth - hope I can block people.
1041 Tony Bates, chief executive of Skype, on stage. At peak times video calling accounts for majority of Skype traffic, and now averaging 300 million minutes a day. Skype has done the PC and mobile, now moving to social. May add paid services later.
1043 Zuckerberg wrapping up. Expect a lot more like this over the next few months and years. Now onto the Q&A.
1045 The inevitable question on Google+. He's ducked it. Well, he would wouldn't he.
1048 Skype getting questions on how this helps the company. Bates says they want a billion users, and this grows their services.
1053 Network load should not be too heavy. Skype app is a mini-client embedded in Facebook, and shouldn't overload the network. Zuckerberg says Facebook will build more datacentres.
1054 Facebook has a really good relationship with Microsoft. Having Skype owned by Microsoft gives stability for the future and makes it easy to partner. We've worked with Microsoft on Bing and host of other issues, says Zuckerberg.
1058 It's all about sharing, Zuckerberg concludes. Applications are the biggest driver for this, then mobile and Groups very much last. The new changes should alter that, one supposes. Now off to try to get the questions answered that weren't covered. Signing off, and a full report on the news page coming soon.
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