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Yahoo! preps (cellular) video chat for iPhone, Android

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Yahoo! plans to one-up Apple's FaceTime video-calling capability with a new version of its Yahoo! Messenger mobile app that not only supports video calls, but — unlike Wi-Fi–only FaceTime — will also do so over carriers' wireless networks.

According to Reuters, the app will not only let users of its iPhone and Android-phone versions conduct video calls, but will also let users video-chat with PCs — and, presumably, Macs as well.

When Apple announced FaceTime for the iPhone 4 and the new iPod touch, it surprised few observers that the service was available only over Wi-Fi, seeing as how the iPhone's exclusive US carrier, AT&T, was already struggling under the wireless data load imposed by eager users of the Jobsian handset.

Although we know of at least a quartet of video-call apps now available for the iPhone — FiCall, fring: Video Calls + IM, Tango Video Calls, and Video Call for iPhone (Video Calls with Santa doesn't count) — none has the market penetration of Yahoo! Messenger, which claims 81 million users, and none impose anywhere near the wireless-service load that a Yahoo! Messenger app might inflict upon already-struggling AT&T.

Android-phone users of a video-enabled Yahoo! Messenger mobile app, of course, won't necessarily be strangled by AT&T's balky network: a quick glance at Google's Phone Gallery shows Googly handsets availablle from Cellular South, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon in addition to AT&T.

The updated, video-capable Yahoo! Messenger mobile app has not yet appeared in Apple's App Store, although Reuters claims that Yahoo! has submitted it for approval.

Perhaps the App Store police are waiting for the oft-rumored Verzion iPhone to be released to share AT&T's heavy load — which, with the addition of a flood of video calls, may be about to get noticably heavier. ®

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