Do you want to make free phone calls through Facebook?
It appears as if that is exactly what Facebook is researching. The social networking giant has revealed that it’s using Canadian users as guinea pigs to test a new mobile device feature that enables users to call each other.
The app, dubbed Messenger, allows users to implement the Internet to place phone calls which uses data instead of eating into minutes purchased through a mobile plan. The experiment is testing the ability to make VoIP calls, which is the same service Skype provides. The newest version of the app also allows users to send short voice clips to each other rather than typing out an entire message.
Users in Canada can hit the “i” button in the top right hand corner of the app’s screen and then tap “free call.” Canadians can then experience actual voice calls. Meanwhile, the rest of the world can receive voice mails.
The app, which requires iOS 4.3 or higher, works for the iPhone, iPad touch or iPad, according to the article at http://www.timescolonist.com/business/facebook-chooses-canada-as-test-market-for-new-feature-to-make-free-phone-calls-1.39253
Canada is the first test run for the new app. It is unclear why Canadian Facebook users were chosen to test the new feature. It is interesting however, to see how this experiment will pan out. When Facebook went public in 2012, its share prices soared, but quickly fell back to earth, prompting Mark Zuckerberg and company to examine new and innovative ways to generate money. One rumored method was to charge money for posts. Another was to collect data from users and target ads to their particular wants and needs.
Conceptually it makes sense for Facebook to offer a person-to-person calling feature. It keeps users locked into to Facebook, discouraging them from using other means of communication, and solidifies Facebook’s presence in the mobile phone market.
But with the sheer volume of ways to communicate in 21st century, time will only tell how successful this experiment will be. We’ll have to wait to see what the Canadians have to say.