War between Fring and Skype boosts Apple's Facetime

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A battle between Fring and Skype over mobile voice and video calls could ultimately result in faster adoption of Apple's Facetime as an open standard for mobile video calls.



Shortly after updating its Fring app to enable video calls for iPhone users running iOS 4 last week, the Israeli startup behind the IM and VoIP client announced that it needed to "temporally reduce support" in Fring for making calls to Skype accounts, indicating that users would now only be able to initiate video calls to other Fring accounts.



Today, Fring claimed on its website that Skype was "cowardly" blocking its app from using the Skype network, writing "They are afraid of open mobile communication. Cowards. Needless to say, we are very disappointed that Skype, who once championed the cause of openness is now trying to muzzle competition, even at the expense of its own users. We?re sorry for the inconvenience Skype has caused you."



Skype responded on its own official blog that "Fring was using Skype software in a way it wasn?t designed to be used ? and in a way which is in breach of Skype?s API Terms of Use and End User License Agreement."



Battle affects all mobiles



While dominating the consumer video chat and Voice over IP market with its desktop software, Skype isn't yet offering video chat in its official Skype mobile app, which currently only handles voice calls.



Skype distributes apps for iPhone, select Nokia and Sony Ericsson smartphones, and for Verizon BlackBerry and Verizon "Droid" branded Android phones (which Skype distributes through Verizon as part of an exclusive marketing deal that prevents other BlackBerry and Android phone users on other carriers from being able to use Skype at all).



Fring entered the market with a full featured chat client that piggybacks on Skype's network, and began offering its app to Android, Symbian and iPhone users. Fring's own network doesn't seem to work very well, but users reported better success in connecting to desktop Skype users. However, the massive influx of traffic from iPhone users trying out Fring brought that system down entirely, prompting the squabble between Fring and Skype that resulted in Android users losing their Fring to Skype functionality as well.



As it stands, users with Fring can now only place video calls with other Fring users; iPhone and Verizon Droid users can use the official Skype app to connect to other mobile and desktop users, but only in voice chats; and other Android users, including Sprint's EVO 4G, can't use Skype for voice nor can they any longer use Fring to activate their front facing camera to do video chats with Skype users.







On page 2 of 2: Market for mobile video open to FaceTime.



Market for mobile video open to FaceTime



Whether Skype will open up its popular but proprietary VoIP network to mobile video calls anytime soon remains unanswered. That leaves mobile users either tied to Fring's own problematic network or an app like Android's Qik, which supports live streaming between mobile users, but only on that platform.



Apple's FaceTime video calling feature is similarly only available to iPhone 4 users right now, and currently requires WiFi to work. That networking limitation is proving to be a boon to adoption however, because the greater bandwidth of WiFi results in far higher call quality while also divorcing the feature from dependancies related to mobile carriers, including additional usage fees, regional calling limits, and network connectivity and latency problems.



By making FaceTime simple and easy to use, Apple is reintroducing users to video calls, something that isn't new but hasn't ever caught on with the public at large, much the same way as its iPad succeeded among the failures of tablet computers. Apple's new series of tearjerker commercials is capitalizing on FaceTime as a way to intimately connect with loved ones, establishing it as a primary feature of iPhone 4.



However, Apple has also already committed to making its FaceTime portfolio of technologies an open specification that any device maker and platform vendor can implement, which should result in an explosion of mobile devices capable of video chat without needing a mobile provider or an account with a proprietary VoIP service.



Unlike Skype, FaceTime places calls directly between two parties. Unlike a mobile carrier's 3GPP video calling features (which use circuit switched networks), FaceTime uses the packet switched public Internet, opening up the potential for compatibility with video chat clients on desktop computers. FaceTime is built upon a series of IETF standards that are already in wide use, and works very similar to Apple's iChat AV program.



Open software standards, premium hardware



Apple's strategy with FaceTime appears to mirror its efforts in promoting and advancing HTML5 via WebKit, which has resulted in a new generation of desktop and mobile browsers that don't need proprietary plugins like Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight just to present video clips or dynamic, interactive web content. That has enabled Apple to introduce the Mac, iPhone, iPod touch and iPad with competitive and even leading browser features.



The effort is also similar to Apple's support for the ISO's MPEG MP3 and AAC audio formats over proprietary audio codecs like Sony's ATRAC and Microsoft's Windows Media Audio, a move which helped establish the iPod as open, interoperable, and not dependent upon a specialized proprietary audio format from Apple.



The company is now doing the same thing in video, pushing the ISO's MPEG H.264 codec standards as a capable, jointly licensed and interoperable specification over the use of either low quality or proprietary video formats that only address a single use case, such as Ogg Theora, Flash video, or Google's VP8 for web-centric video.



Whether Skype will ever embrace FaceTime is doubtful, as the value of Skype's network comes largely from being a closed system it can sell to users and license to partners. At the same time, Skype hasn't yet mounted a public relations assault on Apple that claims the company is "limiting choice" by its choosing to support a single, superior open standard.



That has been the route taken by Microsoft with PlaysForSure, Adobe with Flash, Mozilla with Ogg Theora and Google with VP8. In each case, the complaints against Apple have drawn a lot of attention from the media but have not proven to be successful in actually stopping Apple from promoting open standards and selling the hardware that takes best advantage of them.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    daharderdaharder Posts: 1,580member
  • Reply 2 of 18
    boeyc15boeyc15 Posts: 986member
    Like how the ariticle has(paraphasing)-



    'Facetime Audio(with wifi) calls are better than ATT in fringe areas....'



    Could Apple have something big planned for 2012 or so? .... end of voice services with carriers and go pure data? If the next ipod touch has facetime... things may get very interesting.
  • Reply 3 of 18
    brian5sbrian5s Posts: 4member
    My buddy who owns a Mobile retail store told me that ATT, MetroPCS and others are now mandating that he opens up a public WiFi network to anyone who wants to use it. The phones being manufactured will now automatically connect to any public WiFi network in range and use that as it's primary data connection. He said ATT employees have actually been in his store twice and told him he must comply. They are definitely moving towards a more data centric nationwide network.
  • Reply 4 of 18
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,157member
    Here is your answer:



    Quote:

    Skype distributes apps for iPhone, select Nokia and Sony Ericsson smartphones, and for Verizon BlackBerry and Verizon "Drod" branded Android phones (which Skype distributes through Verizon as part of an exclusive marketing deal that prevents other BlackBerry and Android phone users on other carriers from being able to use Skype at all).



    It wouldn't surprise me if the iPhone is on that list of prevented devices. Skype really blew it when they said they will charge monthly fee if you want to use their VOIP over 3G on the iPhone.
  • Reply 5 of 18
    woofpupwoofpup Posts: 31member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by brian5s View Post


    ...The phones being manufactured will now automatically connect to any public WiFi network in range and use that as it's primary data connection...



    Maybe the phones will identify "official" public WiFi networks but I highly doubt they'd be set up to connect to ANY public (open) WiFi network in range; there is too much room there for people to unknowingly use malicious WiFi networks that are intended to intercept/steal data.
  • Reply 6 of 18
    timgriff84timgriff84 Posts: 909member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple's strategy with FaceTime appears to mirror its efforts in promoting and advancing HTML5 via WebKit, which has resulted in a new generation of desktop and mobile browsers that don't need proprietary plugins like Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight just to present video clips or dynamic, interactive web content. That has enabled Apple to introduce the Mac, iPhone, iPod touch and iPad with competitive and even leading browser features.



    I thought face time was made by apple, in which case how is this any different to flash that is a standard and free for anyone to write for and also silverlight, again free to write for including making your own silverlight player?
  • Reply 7 of 18
    jpcgjpcg Posts: 114member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post


    Here is your answer:







    It wouldn't surprise me if the iPhone is on that list of prevented devices. Skype really blew it when they said they will charge monthly fee if you want to use their VOIP over 3G on the iPhone.



    I guess this is the real reason behind skypes behavior. Fring would still be "free"...

    This is a great opportunity for FaceTime to become popular. Fring will be fast to support it once Apple opens the standard and it then might become the de facto standard for doing VoIP calls on phones due to the large user base it will have acquired by that time.
  • Reply 8 of 18
    jpcgjpcg Posts: 114member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post


    I thought face time was made by apple, in which case how is this any different to flash that is a standard and free for anyone to write for and also silverlight, again free to write for including making your own silverlight player?



    Facetime uses open standards and anybody can fully use it. Its a bit like HTML5 when you want to see it that way. The rules to execute it are/will be fully open. Everybody can integrate Facetime in whatever device they want because they can write their own software to support it.



    Skype on the other hand is quite like Flash. They are the only ones that can write the software necessary to execute it. There is no Skype client for android and Google can do nothing about it because Skype uses a closed protocol (Just like Flash is a closed framework). Google on the other hand could integrate FaceTime into Android without much hassle (hopefully we don't know the exact spec yet)



    Hope this clears things up a bit.
  • Reply 9 of 18
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post


    I thought face time was made by apple, in which case how is this any different to flash that is a standard and free for anyone to write for and also silverlight, again free to write for including making your own silverlight player?



    The difference, of course, is that Facetime is an open standard. Flash is not, nor is Silverlight. Try writing your own Flash player to see how far it gets you.
  • Reply 10 of 18
    walneywalney Posts: 70member
    .....
  • Reply 11 of 18
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ...While dominating the consumer video chat and Voice over IP market with its desktop software, Skype isn't yet offering video chat in its official Skype mobile app, which currently only handles voice calls.



    This is not accurate. Video Skype (over 3G or Wi-Fi) has been available on Nokia's N900 for a while now.
  • Reply 12 of 18
    envirogenvirog Posts: 188member
    I applaud any companies efforts to promote open standards, particularly for this application of video communication.
  • Reply 13 of 18
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by boeyc15 View Post


    Like how the ariticle has(paraphasing)-



    'Facetime Audio(with wifi) calls are better than ATT in fringe areas....'



    Could Apple have something big planned for 2012 or so? .... end of voice services with carriers and go pure data? If the next ipod touch has facetime... things may get very interesting.



    I think that is their plan. Come is as it being a video chat option, and when things get to a certain point of development and user saturation you add audio-only to the device. That is what the future is heading toward.



    Here is watch Jobs said during the FaceTime demo:
    “Now, FaceTime is going to be WiFi-only in 2010. We need to work a little bit with the cellular providers to get ready for the future. So we are WiFi-only in 2010. And Apple will ships tens-of-million of FaceTime devices this year.”
    Twice specifically stating WiFi-only in 2010 and a statement of FaceTime devices, not iPhone 4s.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Walney View Post


    I thought Flash did have an open specification:



    ...http://www.adobe.com/devnet/swf/



    You’re talking about the SWF file format, not about Flash. Apple used open standard protocols and has submitted FaceTime to the open standard body. This pulls everything out from under Apple’s control.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post


    This is not accurate. Video Skype (over 3G or Wi-Fi) has been available on Nokia's N900 for a while now.



    I think the claim is regarding the iOS app compared to the Mac OS, not all mobile apps.
  • Reply 14 of 18
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by EnviroG View Post


    I applaud any companies efforts to promote open standards, particularly for this application of video communication.



    Agree. I would add that a truly open standard changes only by consensus. For example, the HTML5 standard must be finalized, then approved by the World Wide Web Consortium: http://www.w3.org/



    A closed standard, like Flash, is controlled only by Adobe. And while anyone is free to write their own Flash interpreter, Adobe could change the Flash format at any moment, rendering competitors' Flash implementations obsolete.
  • Reply 15 of 18
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    The difference, of course, is that Facetime is an open standard. Flash is not, nor is Silverlight. Try writing your own Flash player to see how far it gets you.



    Well there's the Moonlight the open source Silverlight implementation for Linux http://www.mono-project.com/Moonlight and as someone else has posted the SWF file format is an open standard which is basically Flash. People are free to write players that read them, the same as people are free to write and have written IDE's to create flash files.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post


    Agree. I would add that a truly open standard changes only by consensus. For example, the HTML5 standard must be finalized, then approved by the World Wide Web Consortium: http://www.w3.org/



    A closed standard, like Flash, is controlled only by Adobe. And while anyone is free to write their own Flash interpreter, Adobe could change the Flash format at any moment, rendering competitors' Flash implementations obsolete.



    Disagree. You can't change a standard once it's finished. HTML5 keeps changing because it's not finished. In excactly the same way the published versions of Silverlight and Flash will never change. They may bring out a new version of Silverlight and Flash but Flash 10 and Silverlight 4 are never going to be any different than they are now. In years to come after HTML5 is finished, HTML6 will come out and browsers will need to be updated and that's just the same as Silverlight 5 coming out.
  • Reply 16 of 18
    neondietneondiet Posts: 44member
    Quote:

    pushing the ISO's MPEG H.264 codec standards as a capable, jointly licensed and interoperable specification over the use of either low quality or proprietary video formats that only address a single use case, such as Ogg Theora, Flash video, or Google's VP8 for web-centric video



    What is proprietary about Ogg Theora or VP8? Both are Open Source and free from the patent encumbered licensing that shackles H.264. I'll accept that Ogg Theora isn't as good as H.264 but I've read a few unbiased reviews now between VP8 and H.264 that compare VP8 very favourably.



    As for the myth and FUD that VP8 stomps on H.264 patents (the article on the other end of the VP8 link) the proof of the pudding is in the eating. VP8 has been around for a few years, and no one has put this to the test. I guess it's easier, cheaper and safer to spread mis-information and FUD than to risk having your claims put to the test or to pick a court room fight with Google.



    Lastly, who left the barn door open at RoughlyDrafted and let Daniel out? His reality distortion field makes SJ's look like a case of mild enthusiasm.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post


    I thought face time was made by apple, in which case how is this any different to flash that is a standard and free for anyone to write for and also silverlight, again free to write for including making your own silverlight player?



    The difference is that Apple has opened up its FaceTime protocol to the Open Source community, which means, pretty much like its major contribution to the WebKit browser engine, anyone can develop it and extend it in any direction freely so long as they document and make available the changes they have made to it.



    A world of difference to the still-proprietary Adobe Flash software
  • Reply 18 of 18
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by airmanchairman View Post


    The difference is that Apple has opened up its FaceTime protocol to the Open Source community...



    I am very excited about the possibilities to use the open FaceTime in place of the proprietary Skype. Do you have a link to the specification of the FaceTime protocol, or to a depository with the source?
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