As far as we can tell Facebook still isn’t planning on releasing their own phone, but multinational French carrier Orange is offering a way to use Facebook mobile in place of traditional phone services.
Orange announced today that it will be offering “Party Call,” described as a “social calling” service available for desktop and Facebook mobile. Users will be able to call each other and make group calls through Facebook without the silly and outdated burden of “phone numbers.”
Orange will power the service, and it’ll go live in France in the summer of 2013. However, because the service doesn’t rely on phone numbers, “Party Call” has the potential for global application – and that’s exactly the idea. “This is about developing voice and innovating in social voice,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Facebook’s deal with Orange will be more integrated than other social calling initiatives attempted in years past, but Facebook isn’t leading the charge on this one. Rather, Orange is using Facebook’s open API for integration with its social graph. A Facebook spokesperson said:
[quote type="large" align="left"] “By connecting its Party Call service to Facebook, Orange will be able to offer customers a truly personal experience. It is a great example of how companies can use Facebook’s open developer platform to make their products social. We are really happy that Facebook is transforming telecoms just as it has gaming, music, video and numerous other online services.” [/quote]
Let’s talk about implications. There are plenty of questions that go unanswered about “Party Call.” From the announcement, it sounds like you’ll be able to send out a “Party Call” to any of your Facebook friends, which is kind of nice, but it strikes me as a slightly creepy offering. If you don’t need telephone numbers, what do they use? Can you only call Facebook friends who have their phone number listed on their profile?
How will this work? Like Google Hangouts? Like Skype’s group chat? Is Facebook’s “Party Call” innovative or redundant?
Je ne sais pas! What do you think?