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Old 13-06-2010, 04:01 PM
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Video calling and FaceTime - Terrible name, Brilliant pitch - but a way forward?

Video calling on mobiles has been a reality in most of the world for five years now - and it's been a disaster in terms of take-up rate. Yet Apple comes on the scene with their new FaceTime - video calling - 'feature' and seems to have nailed it in terms of making people want it. Read on for my thoughts on what has the rest of the world been doing wrong and for the use case that Apple has, quite correctly, identified and exploited.

Read on in the full article.

  #2  
Old 13-06-2010, 04:42 PM
sapporobaby sapporobaby is offline
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Hi Steve,

While I may not always agree with you, I will give the nod when you are spot on.

Face Time is nothing new. My wife and I have video called when I needed to get something and wasn't sure, or my daughter wanted to show me something, etc... The ability has been there, but the "WOW" factor has been missing in action. Apple is a master at taking common technology and making it appeal to the masses. This is something Nokia continues to miss. Until they realize that hardware alone does not make a better product, they will continue to have the N97 fiascos. Apple takes average hardware, and marries it up with user-friendly software that has an: "oh ah" factor built in. The iPhone and iPad makes you want to use them or just play with them. I have not felt excitement about a Nokia phone in a long time. The last one being believe it or not the N810. To date Nokia phones seem utilitarian in nature. They work, and work great but as soon as I am done with it, I put it back in the draw or its case. No wow factor. Many Nokia fans criticize or even say that Apple products are all flash but so what. What is wrong with having a product that is aesthetically pleasing as well as providing a degree of cool?

Once again, good article.

  #3  
Old 13-06-2010, 04:55 PM
wampyre wampyre is offline
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While I tend to agree on the fact that Apple is good at presenting things for the average user, they also have screwed the operators by only allowing video calls over wifi.

Understandably in the scenarios you present about using videocalling to contact family members that are far away, still mentioning Skype as a comparison is a bit wrong. (You can use Skype with a handset, but usually you are in front of a computer.)

As a friend of mine (Gone from Symbian to Android handset) says:
"Apple is good at driving forward and screw people".
To clarify what he said he meant that Apple is good at just doing what they want by NOT following the rules and then apply to them afterwards. (DRM music in iTunes, Lockin to one platform, Multitasking)

As for Android (Google), Windows (Microsoft) and Symbian (Nokia, primarily) they try to make compromises and try not to anger any operators and apply to the different laws in various countries before doing something.
This is what the situation really is.

Going back to the case of the cost of videocalling it is indeed a bit more expensive than an average phone call and you do need to have (minimum) 3G coverage. Still the cost have gone down a lot since it's initial launch. Add to the factor that operators do have to get back their investments in terms of building more signal towers etc. from somewhere it's not the biggest sacrifice to pay a little extra. (And I'm a pay-as-you-go customer)

One thing that could be useful is that since now Apple pushes videocalling or FaceTime out to the average user this will be common for other people and hence drive the usage of this service up. The only thing really exciting about FaceTime is that you can move the picture of the person you are speaking to anywhere you want. Besides that there were nothing too much exciting about the new iPhone.

In the meantime it wouldn't surprise me if Apple suddenly decides to allow FaceTime to run over the cellular network in the future.

Last edited by wampyre; 13-06-2010 at 04:58 PM. Reason: added something

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Old 13-06-2010, 05:36 PM
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Lightbulb Fun Time

Face Time (i.e videocalling) comes in pretty handy for a blind people that goes shopping . It's more ease for someone else , recommending him what to buy .......

Regards jApi NL

  #5  
Old 13-06-2010, 05:18 PM
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of hold

@wampyre,

You got a few points wrong mate.

iTunes has been DRM free for quite a while and it allows the importing of .wma files almost from the beginning as long as they were not DRM'd by Microsoft. Do you really think that Apple could not include multi-tasking in any of the iPhones? They way they implemented it in iOS4 seems to be a better implementation that is not a burden on the battery. Why multi-task when not needed? What is locked to one platform?

How exactly is Apple screwing the operator by making FaceTime only wifi? Do you mean in that they are not allowing the operators to charge for the data that FaceTime would use?

FaceTime will go over 3G later. Jobs mentioned this. The difference between Apple and Nokia is that generally Apple likes to make sure that software works as opposed to having its customers become beta testers.

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Old 14-06-2010, 01:30 AM
wampyre wampyre is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
@wampyre,

You got a few points wrong mate.

iTunes has been DRM free for quite a while and it allows the importing of .wma files almost from the beginning as long as they were not DRM'd by Microsoft. Do you really think that Apple could not include multi-tasking in any of the iPhones? They way they implemented it in iOS4 seems to be a better implementation that is not a burden on the battery. Why multi-task when not needed? What is locked to one platform?

How exactly is Apple screwing the operator by making FaceTime only wifi? Do you mean in that they are not allowing the operators to charge for the data that FaceTime would use?

FaceTime will go over 3G later. Jobs mentioned this. The difference between Apple and Nokia is that generally Apple likes to make sure that software works as opposed to having its customers become beta testers.
I am quite well aware that there are songs that are DRM free on iTunes. At least the last time I checked you could still choose between DRM'd music or not (The latter one being tiny wee bit more expensive.)

You do have a good point in how the "multitasking" in Apple may be better for the battery but for the sake of argument why did Apple decide to have "real multitasking" implemented partially then?
The thing is that people do and want to do several things at once e.g. listening to Pandora while surfing the web. This can't be done by the iPhone today.

I'm not going to go into details about being locked to one platform, but if you really are interested you can search for the topic plus EU regulations. (To be fair Microsoft also have done this more or less).
The point is that you have to e.g. activate your iPhone through iTunes which seems ridiculous in my eyes.
(I will and do give credit to Apple for making iTunes so userfriendly.)
Other things that make me dislike Apple in general is how they do things.
Example 1 and Example 2

Yes, I did mean that operators can't benefit of FaceTime if it's wifi only. This of course is because Apple products have the "cool factor" and hence can allow themselves to just do as they want and let others apply to their rules.

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Old 14-06-2010, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by wampyre View Post
I am quite well aware that there are songs that are DRM free on iTunes. At least the last time I checked you could still choose between DRM'd music or not (The latter one being tiny wee bit more expensive.)
Wrong again. ALL iTunes music is DRM free. The more expensive songs have a higher bit rate and are also part of a tiered pricing structure.

Quote:
You do have a good point in how the "multitasking" in Apple may be better for the battery but for the sake of argument why did Apple decide to have "real multitasking" implemented partially then?
The thing is that people do and want to do several things at once e.g. listening to Pandora while surfing the web. This can't be done by the iPhone today.
Real multi/tasking as in pre-emptive multi-tasking? I could be wrong but Symbian does not do real pre-emptive multi-tasking but moves apps to and from the foreground. Apple could have done this from the very beginning but chose not to. The main reason being that it could harm battery life as well as the user experience and everyone knows, Apple does like to manage risk and user experience risk. By the way, it can be done (not real or pre-emptive multi-tasking but in a similar fashion as Android, and Symbian) if you bother to jailbreak your phone. The new iOS4 has multi-tasking because I am using it right now.

Quote:
I'm not going to go into details about being locked to one platform, but if you really are interested you can search for the topic plus EU regulations. (To be fair Microsoft also have done this more or less).
The point is that you have to e.g. activate your iPhone through iTunes which seems ridiculous in my eyes.
(I will and do give credit to Apple for making iTunes so userfriendly.)
Other things that make me dislike Apple in general is how they do things.
Example 1 and Example 2

Yes, I did mean that operators can't benefit of FaceTime if it's wifi only. This of course is because Apple products have the "cool factor" and hence can allow themselves to just do as they want and let others apply to their rules.
I can agree with you here and Apple is getting investigated and if they are guilty, I hope they get slammed, just like if it was Nokia or Android or anyone else. The thing is, everyone is trying to protect their little slice of the pie anyway they can. Activating via iTunes is just one way however, there are other library managers now so iTunes is the only game in town. The iPad is an example of Apple moving away from a "tethered" device approach. Once activated and registered via iTunes you can literally only use iTunes just for OS upgrades.

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Old 14-06-2010, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by wampyre View Post
Yes, I did mean that operators can't benefit of FaceTime if it's wifi only. This of course is because Apple products have the "cool factor" and hence can allow themselves to just do as they want and let others apply to their rules.
Sheesh, I didn't realize we are still living in 2004. I can't believe we're still bringing up the myth that Wifi-based features on the phone screws operators over. It's like saying ppl using the PC screw mobile operators over. If the carrier isn't ready to handle video traffic, then limiting the video call feature to Wifi only and still make ppl lock in on the carrier is GOOD for them, not bad!!

-Gene

  #9  
Old 14-06-2010, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
Sheesh, I didn't realize we are still living in 2004. I can't believe we're still bringing up the myth that Wifi-based features on the phone screws operators over. It's like saying ppl using the PC screw mobile operators over. If the carrier isn't ready to handle video traffic, then limiting the video call feature to Wifi only and still make ppl lock in on the carrier is GOOD for them, not bad!!

-Gene
True. But the ideal would be to allow the actual phone user, or the network, decide what can and can't be done with the phone. If an iPhone user is prepared to pay to make video calls and his/her network is happy to charge for the privilege, it's downright stupid of the OS to prevent this.

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Old 14-06-2010, 02:51 PM
lark lark is offline
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Actually I think video calling is one area where I think Nokia will compete/win for one reason...

On the Nokia N900 with the PR1.2 firmware you can now video talk over Skype and gtalk. Natively. Just by making a skype or gtalk call. No fuss.

So my friends do not have to have a FaceTime application or an iphone to video chat.

This alone will kill FaceTime as Skype is sure to release a similar app for the iphone, symbian or android.

Lark

  #11  
Old 14-06-2010, 04:45 PM
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True. But the ideal would be to allow the actual phone user, or the network, decide what can and can't be done with the phone. If an iPhone user is prepared to pay to make video calls and his/her network is happy to charge for the privilege, it's downright stupid of the OS to prevent this.
First, I believe the original argument was not hypothesis for Wifi benefits for the phone user, but for the lack of feature on 3g network as a detriment for the carrier. Second, how do we know the Wifi only limitation was not agreed upon by the carriers and Apple? I thought apple said themselves that they're trying to work this out btw carriers, and I don't hear a single carrier complaining about it's lack of 3G support. So, no I don't support carriers, but this argument is more about phone user benefits, disguised as carrier detriment. This sort of argument is like saying Apple "wanted" carrier exclusive availability, when it's so obvious that it's AT&T that imposed this restriction. God, bash apple for their actual faults, like crappy dev policies, not for these idiotic theories.

-Gene

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Old 13-06-2010, 05:33 PM
twinpeaked twinpeaked is offline
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As soon as "Wifi only" was mentioned, I thought it was a boon to the quality and usability of the function. Though, you Steve seem to be the only one in the tech blogging community that has seen that.

Should be the perfect test of whether, with all things being perfect (i.e. Good performance, cheap, and high percentage of the user involved in advanced functionality) whether people will use video chat on a mobile device, or whether the previous handling of video chat was the culprit.

Also, it only goes to re-enforce the notion of the "dumb pipe" whether it stays wifi only or gets ported to 3G and gets charged as data rather than video phone minutes

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Old 13-06-2010, 05:34 PM
adi_pie adi_pie is offline
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Good article, Steve, and while I agree with what you're saying I can't actually see myself ever using Facetime( God, that's a dumb name) mainly because if there's Wi-Fi, it either means I'm at home and can use Skype and thus don't need Facetime, or out and about and find a hotspot I can use in which case it will probably be too slow to be useful or I might be doing something were videocalling is useless (eating, drinking, walking through the park).
That being said, I'm sure Apple will be opening this up for use on the cellular network sometime next year.

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Old 13-06-2010, 06:12 PM
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I tried mobile video calling years ago when it appeared first. It worked fine, was good fun for a few minutes. But it wasn't really any use to me so I haven't used it since. I can't see that changing, after all - voice only calling is something that can be done at the same time as you are doing something else. Video calling really needs your whole attention, and for you to be looking into the phone.

If I really need to see the person at the other end, it's easiest to sit down and use Skype. Out and about Mobile I don't really need it. Even if Apple put a sugar coating on it, I still don't need it.

  #15  
Old 13-06-2010, 06:31 PM
buster buster is offline
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I made one video phone call using my mobile phone, purely as an experiment, which cost a fortune and was a total waste of time. The picture quality was crap and the whole process was very laggy.

I have since made a few video calls using Skype, which generally works much better, but I feel that most people do not want to make video calls most of the time, for the reasons that Steve gave. However, it will be very interesting to see if Apple's approach takes off, although it does inevitably suffer from being limited to iPhones only, especially as what one might have considered the ultimate home video-phone device (the iPad) does not have a front-facing camera...
 

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