Skype rumored to take on Apple's FaceTime at CES

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A pioneer in easy to use video conferencing on the desktop, Skype is now rumored to be bringing video calls to mobile devices, offering competition to Apple's FaceTime.



Skype has reportedly been saying it has a "series of video-related announcements" to make a next month's Consumer Electronics Show, according to a report by Engadget.



The company is also scheduled to be represented in a panel discussion entitled "Video Calling Gets Ready for Primetime" at the conference, and the report noted that Skype advertised via email this morning a new support document that tells users how to make video calls via iPhone.



While there's no parallel documents that provide the same kind of instructions for mobile users running Android or Symbian, it seems likely that the company would want to roll out video features on as many of the mobile platforms its existing VoIP and text chat work on as possible.



Skype already offers limited video chat support on the Linux-based Nokia N900, but hasn't expanded the ability to video chat outside of that device on other mobile platforms it supports with a Skype client.



Taking on FaceTime



Apple's release of FaceTime video calling in conjunction with the iPhone 4 launch this summer received some criticism from users who took issue with the company's suggestion that the new feature represented a first, noting the video calling features long built into many European phones and the front facing video cameras appearing on a few Android models such as the HTC Evo 4G.



What was new about Apple's FaceTime is that it is built using open standards that other companies can implement for interoperability with both mobile and desktop systems. Apple released its own support for Macs and the latest iPod touch, and is expected to add the feature to its second generation iPads early next year. All of the components of FaceTime leverage existing IETF standards and familiar codecs such as H.264 video and AAC audio.



Existing mobile video chat based on telephony standards is not only much poorer quality and so more expensive to use that it is not in common use, but is also tied to mobile networks, and therefore can't interoperate with desktop computers to set up mobile to PC video connections the way FaceTime can.



The video calling hardware Android licensees have added to their own devices lacks a software analog to FaceTime from Google, leaving Evo users to rely upon third party tools such as Fring. It's service can work over 3G networks in addition to WiFi, an advantage over Apple's WiFi-only FaceTime. However, Fring also delivers less quality and is much less reliable. It also requires users to set up a new account, as the existing video chat networks (including Skype, Yahoo, MSN and AOL) are built upon proprietary technologies that can't work together.



Fring vs. Skype



Fring attempted to piggyback on Skype's network to offer Skype users the ability to set up video chats on mobile devices using their existing accounts, something Skype itself does not yet support. However, Skype retaliated by blocking Fring from working with Skype accounts, saying the company had failed to uphold its licensing agreement in relation to tapping into the Skype network and suggested the company was making Skype's brand look bad because of its poor performance.







Skype recently suffered a major outage of its own that prevented even paid desktop callers from begin able to use the service for an extended period. The availability of the basic Skype client on Android was also held up over an exclusive app deal Skype made with Verizon, which limited Skype from working with Android phones not connected to Verizon's network.



FaceTime vs proprietary networks



At the launch of FaceTime, Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs said the company would be publishing open specifications for FaceTime that would enable other companies to build interoperable video chat clients. Over the last six months, no new information about this has surfaced, but competitors have also largely failed to offer any competition in the mobile video calling arena.



Apple's FaceTime for Mac, currently in beta, may be among the first titles available in the company's new Mac App Store, suggesting the potential for Apple to shift attention toward the emerging standard and perhaps leverage the attention that will be directed at the new software download site to broaden the mindshare of FaceTime as a cross platform standard.



If Apple can successfully establish FaceTime as a popular open standard, it will solve an existing problem plaguing instant messaging systems: the fact that existing chat users need to create multiple accounts to chat with others on different chat networks (such as AIM or MSN). A similar use of open standards has enabled email users to trade messages with other users on different email servers made by various vendors with few interoperability problems. Apple's iChat and Google's GTalk have been pushing open IM using the open XMPP standard, but Apple is the only company taking a leading role in pushing open video chat using an extension of many of the same open standards.



Skype made an early comment supportive of FaceTime, but it appears that the company intended to mean that it would bring Skype video chat to iPhone 4, rather than incorporate FaceTime-compatible calls in Skype. The latter would bypass Skype's proprietary network, which represents most of the company's value. Skype's network isn't open, but reportedly uses a distributed P2P-like network for arranging calls between its users while FaceTime uses conventional point-to-point links, offering little apparent room for combining the two together in any sort of partnership.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 63
    Why compete? They're "competing"in two different parts of the market. Apple doesn't want to be Skype and Skype has no handset to be Apple, soo..... why not just make Skype facetime compatible? After all it's an open standard.
  • Reply 2 of 63
    Quote:

    If Apple can successfully establish FaceTime as a popular open standard, it will solve an existing problem plaguing instant messaging systems: the fact that existing chat users need to create multiple accounts to chat with others on different chat networks (such as AIM or MSN). A similar use of open standards has enabled email users to trade messages with other users on different email servers made by various vendors with few interoperability problems.



    The standard already exists, SIP, published by the IETF just like the email protocols. If Apple was truly interested in open standards they would have used that.
  • Reply 3 of 63
    2oh12oh1 Posts: 501member
    Apple isn't in the business of selling FaceTime. Apple is in the business of selling iPhones. If skype brings an easy to use facetime competitor to the iPhone, it's good for Apple because it helps to sell iPhones.
  • Reply 4 of 63
    postulantpostulant Posts: 1,270member
    In short, Skype Video is coming to the iPhone.



    According to AI, everything is a competition.
  • Reply 5 of 63
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    As long as Skype FINALLY starts using Push properly and not draining battery, then I?ll be very happy to see more videophone apps!
  • Reply 6 of 63
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    Skype is probably more concerned about competing with Fring.



    Fring has introduced a paid call anyone feature like Skype's, after Skype froze them out.



    Fring's latest update includes full screen video calling and DVQ (dynamic video quality) which adjusts video quality depending on bandwidth.



    The latest generation iPod Touch can also use Facetime, as can Macs with the beta software installed so the "iPhone 4 only" part of the table is wrong.



    PS Merry Christmas from Dec 25 in Australia.
  • Reply 7 of 63
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by huntercr View Post


    Why compete? They're "competing"in two different parts of the market. Apple doesn't want to be Skype and Skype has no handset to be Apple, soo..... why not just make Skype facetime compatible? After all it's an open standard.



    Because (as the article notes), to do so would be pretty much the end of Skype as a company.



    So instead, Skype will "fight back" with some other competing standard and everyone will suffer for a few years just because Skype doesn't want to go out of business, (even though they probably will eventually anyway).
  • Reply 8 of 63
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bluedalmatian View Post


    The standard already exists, SIP, published by the IETF just like the email protocols. If Apple was truly interested in open standards they would have used that.



    Incorrect.



    Of the four main standards that FaceTime is based on, three are IETF standards, one of which is SIP. You just assumed that it was non-standard because it was Apple, when a simple lookup on the wiki tells the exact opposite story.
  • Reply 9 of 63
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bluedalmatian View Post


    The standard already exists, SIP, published by the IETF just like the email protocols. If Apple was truly interested in open standards they would have used that.



    I think you're misunderstanding his point. SIP is used as part of the complete framework Apple has labelled 'FaceTime'. It's not a video standard in itself to my knowledge.



    The author here is calling FaceTime a standard in the sense of making it the framework that everybody chooses to adopt and become compatible with, not in the sense that H264 or AAC are standards. He's using 'standard' in a broader sense.
  • Reply 10 of 63
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Apple has no interest in officially attending CES. They get just as much press without even showing up. Many of the "press release products" demo-ed at CES are would-be competitors to Apple products. Therefore the media is compelled to compare those products against Apple's. This is free publicity for Apple all day, every day. And as we all know, if an Apple product and a competitor's product are mentioned together, Apple wins and the competitor loses.



    In addition, if Apple decides to introduce new iPads just after CES every year, they gain a huge tactical advantage. The wannabes are forced to reveal their products and/or strategies at CES because CES is too important to miss. (Unless you're forced to skip CES because your product is fatally flawed like Google TV-enabled HDTVs from Toshiba, LG, and Sharp, but that's a different story.)



    Competitors who announce pad computers at CES will enjoy just a brief period of media attention before iPad 2.0 is announced. After that it's lights out.
  • Reply 11 of 63
    The way I see this Apple has once again taken advantage of a fractured sector of the market and created a solution that should have been created long ago. MSN, Skype, Yahoo et al haven't gotten together and created a unified or interoperable architecture because of their own self-interest.



    We can all understand that, but it's left the door wide open for Apple to come in and create a simple, elegant solution that lets people running any Mac or iOS device to communicate with zero fuss or technical expertise at high quality without signing up for an account etc.



    I think Apple is simply using FaceTime as a selling point for the iOS/Mac ecosystem until they think it's the right moment to abandon that strategy and release a Windows FaceTime client, at which time Skype's market share will evaporate.



    I like Skype, but it's not a patch on FaceTime or iChat for quality and I can't see how they can avoid their long-term fate now. You could even argue this is something for competition watchdogs to look into, but that's not our problem. I'll just enjoy the Star Trek-esque video quality the industry has failed to provide for so long.
  • Reply 12 of 63
    jmmxjmmx Posts: 341member
    I am a long time fan of skype. It really does have something to offer the user.



    1- Widespread international adoption

    2- Cross platform interoperability

    3- Ability to call landline and cell phones directly



    I use skype occasionally to make phone calls from my Touch over wifi. No need for a cell phone plan!



    The video for Skype on my Mac is pretty good, certainly good enough for a video chat. They have saved us thousands of dollars over the last several years. Or, more accurately, allowed us to keep in touch with friends and family overseas in a way we never would have without them.



    Skype is definitely one of the good guys!!!
  • Reply 13 of 63
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jmmx View Post


    I am a long time fan of skype. It really does have something to offer the user.



    1- Widespread international adoption

    2- Cross platform interoperability

    3- Ability to call landline and cell phones directly



    I use skype occasionally to make phone calls from my Touch over wifi. No need for a cell phone plan!



    The video for Skype on my Mac is pretty good, certainly good enough for a video chat. They have saved us thousands of dollars over the last several years. Or, more accurately, allowed us to keep in touch with friends and family overseas in a way we never would have without them.



    Skype is definitely one of the good guys!!!



    How do you talk over your iPod touch? I have an ipod touch as well but there is no microphone in it (I have the first generation, perhaps the newer ones have mics embedded?)



    I also love Skype- I pay $3 per month for unlimited long distance calling in the US and Canada to any regular phone number. You can't beat that! I don't think the iPhone is worth the AT&T fees and I balk when my friends tell me they just paid their $100 ATT bill for their iPhones.
  • Reply 14 of 63
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    Because (as the article notes), to do so would be pretty much the end of Skype as a company.



    So instead, Skype will "fight back" with some other competing standard and everyone will suffer for a few years just because Skype doesn't want to go out of business, (even though they probably will eventually anyway).



    That's the part I don't get... why would they go out of business? What sales will they lose? People don't buy iPhones for facetime... it's a side feature. Also...

    Not everyone in the world wants an iPhone. Skype would be allowing Facetime on its services.



    Seems like a win win to me.
  • Reply 15 of 63
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by huntercr View Post


    That's the part I don't get... why would they go out of business? What sales will they lose? People don't buy iPhones for facetime... it's a side feature. Also...

    Not everyone in the world wants an iPhone. Skype would be allowing Facetime on its services.



    Seems like a win win to me.



    FaceTime isn?t an iPhone-only feature, it only started on the iPhone. Then it moved to the iPod Touch, will move to the iPad when it gets a camera, is already on Macs as a beta app, and was announced as going to released as an open standard during the initial demonstration. This means that Android, BB OS, Symbian, WP7, etc. can all add FaceTime support, not to mention specific apps that want to just in on cheap and simple video streaming.



    Note that the biggest failure of video conferencing has been the lack of standardization. With FaceTime there is an opportunity for the same video conferencing can be supported across all networks without setup and work between phones, PMPs, and PCs. Of course, this all hinges on adoption which means the FaceTime protocol suite needs to get released to all.
  • Reply 16 of 63
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by huntercr View Post


    That's the part I don't get... why would they go out of business? What sales will they lose? People don't buy iPhones for facetime... it's a side feature. Also...

    Not everyone in the world wants an iPhone. Skype would be allowing Facetime on its services.



    Seems like a win win to me.



    Use the ear buds. They have a mic built in. I used the iPod touch for a while but a touch with skype is not a cell phone. You'll still need a cell phone and that is why I got an iPhone eventually and have never looked back. I tried the all free or cheap VoIP stuff for about a year and it never lived up to the hype. Of course I still use skype for international calls from my iPhone.



    Edit: I don't know if the first gen iPod touch had the ear buds with the built in mic or not. If not, you may have to go third party for a mic.
  • Reply 17 of 63
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tyler82 View Post


    How do you talk over your iPod touch? I have an ipod touch as well but there is no microphone in it (I have the first generation, perhaps the newer ones have mics embedded?)



    I also love Skype- I pay $3 per month for unlimited long distance calling in the US and Canada to any regular phone number. You can't beat that! I don't think the iPhone is worth the AT&T fees and I balk when my friends tell me they just paid their $100 ATT bill for their iPhones.



    Our iPod Touch 4th gen has a microphone built in. First and second generation didn't. I'm not sure about the third generation.
  • Reply 18 of 63
    Fring and Skype are worthless. Suitable for people who love Windows.
  • Reply 19 of 63
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    Because (as the article notes), to do so would be pretty much the end of Skype as a company.



    So instead, Skype will "fight back" with some other competing standard and everyone will suffer for a few years just because Skype doesn't want to go out of business, (even though they probably will eventually anyway).



    I use Skype on a daily basis. Until all of Apple's competing protocols become as ubiquitous, I can't see Skype being displaced. I have a couple Skype phone numbers in different countries that I travel to. I use it to call landlines with super cheap international rates. It messages, and has voicemail, works on a wide array of platforms and is a lot more popular worldwide than anything Apple sells including iPhones.
  • Reply 20 of 63
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jmmx View Post


    I am a long time fan of skype. It really does have something to offer the user.



    1- Widespread international adoption

    2- Cross platform interoperability

    3- Ability to call landline and cell phones directly



    I use skype occasionally to make phone calls from my Touch over wifi. No need for a cell phone plan!



    The video for Skype on my Mac is pretty good, certainly good enough for a video chat. They have saved us thousands of dollars over the last several years. Or, more accurately, allowed us to keep in touch with friends and family overseas in a way we never would have without them.



    Skype is definitely one of the good guys!!!



    +1



    With Skype, I can chat or talk with anyone, anywhere irrespective of whether they have a Mac, iPhone or any other Apple product. I can use Skype over 3G from any smartphone, not just Apple and I can talk with other smartphones anywhere in the world for pennies vs mobile companies' exorbitantly high toll rates.



    Skype quality is decent enough. I can video chat with a person holding a non-Apple product (vast majority of people out there). Skype is here to stay. It's pretty much on every platform now.
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