One of the more interesting offshoots of the WWDC 2010 keynote on Monday was the introduction of video chat to the iPhone 4. Employing a new protocol Apple has dubbed FaceTime, the iPhone 4 now allows for iPhone-to-iPhone video calling over Wi-Fi. But Apple didn’t stop there. To help ensure the adoption of FaceTime as a standard over other video chat protocols, Apple published FaceTime as an open standard. Because the FaceTime implementation is actually a conglomeration of many existing open standards, Apple hopes that eventually support will extend past the iPhone and out into other products and devices. Apple knows that every one in the world may not want an iPhone but if they can ensure the ubiquity of its own standard it may draw more users to it. If you use a product that allows you to video chat with your friends on their iPhones, you may be encouraged to get an iPhone so you can talk to them on the go as well.
Contacted by AppleInsider, many of the key players in chat don’t seem to be in any rush to adopt the new standard in their products. Video chat giant Skype stated that “Based on Apple’s statement about FaceTime being open platform, we are looking forward to see how this process unfolds.” They also stated that contrary to early reports it did not have immediate plans for integrating FaceTime. Google and Microsoft, who run video chat through through their Google Talk and MSN Messenger products respectively, were similarly evasive and declined to reveal any future plans for FaceTime adoption. It seems the major players are waiting to see if iPhone video chat becomes a phenomenon or a flash in the pan. Video chat on cell phones isn’t nearly as revolutionary as Apple would have us believe so its understandable that Skype, Google, and Microsoft would be reticent to spend money and time on a product that may disappear in a year or two. If FaceTime is a success, you can be sure these companies and others will scramble to support the protocol.
What do you think of FaceTime? Should it become a universally supported protocol or is this another case of Apple imposing their will on the technology industry? Is smartphone video chat a hot feature or just a flash in the pan? Let us know in the comments.