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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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  #4  
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 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.

  #7  
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

  #8  
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.

  #9  
Old 13-06-2010, 06:31 PM
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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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Old 13-06-2010, 06:41 PM
moylan moylan is offline
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hohum

i've had the ability to make video calls since i got a nokia n70. i think i only ever made 3 calls. 1st to test that i could. 2nd to test that somebody elses phone could and 3rd when an engineer was on site in the arse end or ireland and didn't know what a sata socket looked like so i had him point it out holding his video phone pointing at the motherboard (it was the quickest way!). when i got my current htc hero i didn't care that i no longer had that option. have since given away all my symbian devices bar an old no camera e61.

the iphone only does wifi for now not because of the limitation of the iphone but because of the limitation of the american networks. listen to american iphone users talk about frequent dropped calls and inability to get a signal (how many folks outside the u.s. need a femtocell at home?). even steve jobs was unable to access wifi data at the iphone 4 event. :-) the last time i had a dropped call was years ago in a known blackspot (motorway cutting surrounded on all sides by granite) which has since had special masts shaped like trees added. here in europe for the most part the phone networks are strong and robust. video calls have worked in europe for years. people just don't seem to be interested.

the iphone is locked to 1 platform. that platform is called itunes. it works only on mac and windows. as a linux user my choices are to run itunes on macos in a vm (breaking apples eula against running it on non mac hardware) or run itunes on windows in a vm (not paying for a copy of a windows just to run itunes nor will i run a illegal version). linux can be called a niche platform but its importance in the it community should not be over looked.

but how many of us have used a mobile call to lie? people will often lie on a phone call as it is easier to do so than face to face. we don't want the other person to be able to see our face. the idea of a video phones is not even welcome on these occasions.

ymmv

  #11  
Old 13-06-2010, 10:00 PM
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video calling and location apps all good for those who are single or still crazy in love..

  #12  
Old 13-06-2010, 10:56 PM
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@Buster,

Swing and a miss.

The standards for FaceTime are open. Meaning anyone can use them. It is up to the other phone manufacturers to decide if they want to join in. So yes initially FT will be limited to the iPhone but Nokia can play along if they can finally figure out how to stop making craptastic software.

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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.

  #14  
Old 14-06-2010, 02:44 AM
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he idea that 3G videocalls have flunked because they were hideously expensive is plainly not true. There are some countries where they may be many times the cost of a voice-only call, but there are many countries where it costs only slightly more, or even just the same.

And do you know? Price makes absolutely no difference. Nobody, anywhere uses them, at any price. I would not be surprised if they remained just as impopular if they became cheaper than voice.

And it is not a matter of quality, either. If watching a talking face added any value at all, we would put up mediocre image. And anyway, 3G coverage is good enough to give you a fine experience almost anywhere (the park, the supermarket, the subway) without the need to search for a free-wifi-equipped cafe.

Videocall itself is in general a BAD idea, except maybe for spaced in time, scheduled family telemeetings. Restricting them to the iPhone4 over WiFi won't make it any better, save for those brainwashed into thinking that if it comes from Apple, then it is a creative strike of genius.

  #15  
Old 14-06-2010, 02:47 AM
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price is really the main factor for video call.

in indonesia, the price of video call used to be more expensive, but now video and voice call were the same.

anyway,
there were another used for video call.
it's to show a product.

if your a woman, and goes shooping.
you know when you see a good dress or something else.
you want to ask the someone, then video call is one of the way to show it.
 

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