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Is Facebook about to launch Skype-powered video chat? Zuckerberg promises to unveil 'something awesome' this week

Let's chat: The image on invitations for the announcement show a face in a speech bubble, which have strengthen rumours of a new Skype feature

Facebook is rumoured to be preparing to launch a new video chat feature in partnership with Skype.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg has said that the world's biggest social networking website will 'launch something awesome' on Wednesday.

His comments have led to speculation that the site will announce a new feature powered by the Microsoft-owned video calling service.

Currently people using Facebook can only communicate using instant message text chat, but the two companies are reported to have agreed for Skype video chat to be integrated into the site.

The reports have been strengthened by the emergence of invitations for the event, which feature the picture of a face inside a speech bubble.

The move could dramatically increase the use of Skype, which currently has 170 million active users compared to Facebook’s 750 million

The partnership would bring Facebook closer to Microsoft, which is one of its shareholders and bought Skype for $8.5 billion in May.

Mr Zuckerberg told reporters in a visit to Facebook's Seattle office on Wednesday that the company has an imminent launch, but revealed scant details.

'Something awesome': Mark Zuckerberg has promised Facebook will stage an exciting launch next week

He said the project had been developed at the 40-person Seattle office, Facebook's only major engineering centre outside of its Palo Alto, California headquarters.

There has been speculation in technology blogs in recent weeks about various mobile products in development at Facebook, including the release of a long-awaited Facebook app for Apple's iPad and a specialised app for photo-sharing on the iPhone.

Facebook's Seattle office has made a mark on the company's mobile efforts, playing a central role in the development of Facebook's unified mobile site, unveiled in March.

A Facebook spokesman declined to provide further details about Mr Zuckerberg's comments.
Facebook, the world's largest Internet social network with more than 500 million users, is increasingly challenging established online companies like Google and Yahoo for consumers' time online and for advertising dollars.

Speculation: There are rumours that the 'awesome' launch could be a new product for iPad users

According to the company, people that use Facebook on mobile devices are twice as active on the service than users on PCs.

'A trend is mobile… which means that instead of being just on a computer when you're at a computer, you're at a computer all the time,' said Mr Zuckerberg.

'It means you can share more stuff and then the final thing is that people's attitude towards sharing in society is changing.

'If you look back 30 years, I think people's attitude towards wanting to put something out there would've been different than it is today, where now every high school student, college student has the opportunity to have a blog, or a Facebook account, or a Twitter account, and can use those things to share things and that's much more of the norm now.

'I think instead of just primarily being afraid of the impact of that, now people are now primarily starting to see that that actually can be very valuable.' - dailymail

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