On the surface, the recent agreement between Facebook and Skype seems to make sense if one is judging it with broad perspective that both sites are online tools that bring people together and help them communicate. However, the deal becomes a bit of a head-scratcher you analyze how each site is used very differently.
Skype is essentially a face-to-face conversation in real time- but with the added advantage of not having to be in the same room. Communicating via Facebook is actually very different. As opposed to real time communications, all messages on Facebook get replied to when the user gets around it. Furthermore, they're not tied to a webcam in order to do so.
Perhaps a good predictor of the results of this agreement is the chat function on Facebook. While it's much closer to the original Facebook mold, Facebook chat is in real time. Personally, I rarely use the function on Facebook and my threshold for tolerating video chats on Facebook would be much greater.
Furthermore, I believe strictly from a brand perspective that this new idea will have trouble taking off because different ideas need different brands. The convergence of unique ideas with unique brands is rarely successful. For Skype it's an attempt to extend it's reach to an enormous new population of users. Yet, for Facebook it feels like another line extension that is leading the brand further off course. Isn't it fitting that they could get so distracted.
This post also appeared on Talent Zoo Media's Beneath The Brand blog.