Last year when Apple introduced the new iPhone 4, they also introduced FaceTime which is a video calling service originally just for iPhone 4 users. Steve Jobs had said they were going to open up the protocol so that anyone can develop for FaceTime, although that still hasn’t happened at the writing of this article. Apple later released FaceTime clients for the newest iPod Touches with front-facing cameras, the Mac originally as a free beta download which is now 99 cents in the app store. Then, earlier this month, when Apple released the iPad 2 featuring a front-facing camera, they also put FaceTime on it. So as of right now, it’s a video calling services just for Apple users. I honestly think that once Skype finally releases a native app for iPad, FaceTime will loose many users (currently, you can jus use the iPhone app and 2X size). The reason is that instead of just being able to call other Apple users, you can call any Skype user on any platform that has a Skype client, which is millions of people!
FaceTime may be slightly higher-quality video but, for the very rare occasion that I make a video call, video quality isn’t the most important thing for me, I am much more concerned about the audio quality because that gets across the information, video is generally just a person’s face which I don’t need to see, although it makes the calls more personal.
If Apple really wants FaceTime to succeed, they should have made it an updated feature for iChat on the Mac and then make a free iChat app for the iOS platforms so they have a unified messaging system built-in and honestly, I never really use iChat on my computer as it is right now an I’m not going to spend 99 cents on an app that I have fewer people to talk to than Skype which is free. I think video calling will be a growing trend in the not-so-distant future, although I find it to be unnecessary, once the technology becomes widely available, many people will find it compelling to video call people whether they are just next-door or 1,000 miles away. Apple did a good job developing a system for a family or business that only uses Apple products but, unless they open it up for any developer to use the technology, people are more likely to choose the more open standards like Skype and Google Talk.