Facebook enters the videoconferencing fray with Messenger Rooms

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) introduced a videoconferencing tool and expanded livestreaming features on Friday, capitalizing on a surge in demand for video chats during the coronavirus pandemic while taking its first steps toward a planned integration of messaging products across its apps.

The videoconferencing tool, Messenger Rooms, will enable as many as 50 people to participate in a call, the company said in a statement. It will display a tiled layout of participant videos – up to 16 on desktop and 8 on mobile – resembling the design offered by competitor Zoom (ZM.O).

Zoom’s share price sank 3.7% from the day prior to about $163 in the minutes following the announcement, after hitting a record high of $181.50 earlier in the day. The move in Facebook’s shares was less dramatic, up 2.4% from the previous day to $189.51.

Facebook users will be able to share links enabling non-users to join Rooms via a web browser on both desktop and mobile, eliminating requirements to download an app or create an account as on other services.

There will be no time limits on the calls.

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