So who doesn’t have an iTunes account? It’s still a lot of people. Yet what if iTunes brought you free calling – just like Skype? What if iTunes could play the songs and let you have a conversation at the same time? What if all you had to know was their email address or their phone number to make it work? What if this change brought about push to talk capabilities as well? Soon changes in iTunes are likely to bring this all to you.
I’ve been writing recently about FaceTime (see Topic: FaceTime) simply because I believe it is a disruptive change. It brings VoIP to new users without them having to create a new account and enables video calls (more to come) in a simple and natural way. All pointers suggest that the next generation iPod touch (see below) is the next Apple device to get FaceTime. Although to reach a Touch user from an iPhone in a Facetime call you will click on their email address.
Let’s digress for a moment. iChat is only on Mac’s. It’s basically dead. So how do we get FaceTime to desktops? You will download an iTunes update and instantly your PC or Laptop will be FaceTime compatible. Type the number or enter an email and Apple will request a FaceTime call. I’m willing to bet that iTunes is on as many desktops as Skype although it may not be launched as frequently. Let’s stretch this a little further. Apple knows and understands notification servers. So “iTunes helper” which runs in the background (checks on downloads) can now act as a call signaling device and launch iTunesFaceTime. It’s already built in on the Touch devices.
I’ve commented before that I doubt Apple in will limit your FaceTime adventures to one email or one Phone number. Fact is… .soon any number of email addresses will be associated with your iTunes account. It will be up to you to decide. There’s both benefits and disadvantages.
- Each new email address associated with iTunes provides another “CallerID” an potentially different contract and profile information. This may help where some degree of anonymity is required.
- With Facetime there’s no need to build a buddylist (they exist elsewhere and you could also associate FaceTime or TwitterID’s with the iTunes master account.
Still when iTunes becomes an effective SIP registry with all your numbers/emails and exists in your pocket… then it become the key in what calls and notifications you actually accept and who from.
Both Apple and Google are in a good position to determine the future of communications – how we message, notify and escalate to richer media forms – voice / video / conferences etc. It’s their control of the mobile operating systems that really make this possible. Just like Google can in a blink link gmail and VoIP, Apple only has to decide when to flip the switch on iTunes and add FaceTime. Apple does have the advantage when it comes to credit card details.
This direction has the potential to destroy Skype. The only reason I use Skype is… it is cheaper. However, it’s another buddylist to manage and only really works when I’m on my laptop etc. I usually know or can find a number or an email. Even TwitterID’s are easy. SkypeID’s are hard to find and you have to have the client open. No wonder an IPO can’t wait.
I also won’t bother to point out how this may help Apple or Google re trading on our information down the road. Didn’t say I like it.
Apple’s latest beta version of iOS 4.1 released earlier this week has offered the strongest evidence yet that the company is planning to roll out FaceTime video calling functionality to future non-iPhone devices based on the iOS operating system. A new option in the iOS “Contacts” application allows users to make FaceTime calls using either a phone number or an email address. This would allow FaceTime compatibility with devices not associated with a phone number such as future camera-enabled iPads and iPod touches.