Facebook, Orange team up for social calling feature

If it all works out, you will be able to call your Facebook friends over the Internet without needing their phone numbers. Multinational French carrier Orange has joined hands with Facebook to offer a social calling service named ‘Party Call'.

In an announcement made on Wednesday, Orange announced that the ‘Party Call’ feature will be available on the mobile and desktop versions of the social networking website, and users will be able to call each other and make group calls using ties on Facebook.

What is important about this partnership is that not Facebook, but Orange is leading this initiative by making use of Facebook’s open API. The service uses Facebook's open social graph, letting users invite friends and post messages about each call to Timelines.

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Rumours suggested earlier that Party Call will be similar to Orange’s VoIP service ‘Life is better on’ or Libon but Orange confirmed to TechCrunch that Party Call will not be in anyway similar to Libon, routing calls instead directly to Orange’s voice network. It will aim to be a connection between the social networking website and legacy voice services to offer ‘group calls within the Facebook environment. 

Orange’s pet app Libon is directly in competition with Skype, providing free calls and messaging over the Internet. The app is currently available for iOS devices. An Android app for it is coming next year. The Orange spokesperson also mentioned that Libon may, at some point of time, be integrated with Facebook anyway.

Party Call will first roll out in France in the summer of 2013 with plans to go international after studying the response. Orange itself has presence all over Europe, which will prompt the service providers to expand this feature. It might even extend to markets beyond Orange’s footprints, considering Party Call will not be relying on telephone numbers for its service.

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,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

Given how integrating with Facebook seems to be the way forward for everyone from browsers to handsets, the Orange powered service that will allow Facebook calls from mobiles and desktops seems to be an exciting prospect even in theory. With services such as WhatsApp and Skype, it was only a matter of time before Facebook jumped on to the bandwagon. Now, it only remains to be seen how well Party Call will be accepted by the users.

The statement by Orange and Facebook has also added fuel to the rumoured Facebook mobile phone. Even with Mark Zuckerberg having said that a Facebook mobile phone makes ‘no sense,’ word is that the hardware is still in work, and Facebook is on the drawing board with Orange standing firm as its partner.

Published Date: Nov 22, 2012 12:34 pm | Updated Date: Nov 22, 2012 12:34 pm