Yahoo! goes head-to-head with FaceTime!
Android invited to the party too
Yahoo! has added video calling to its iPhone application, as promised, though we're still waiting for the Android equivalent so fanbois can make rude gestures at each other.
Video calling was promised for both platforms last week, with interoperability between the iPhone, Android, and desktop clients promised as well as support for 3G connections. That should put Yahoo! well ahead of Apple's FaceTime, which can't interoperate with anyone and only works over Wi-Fi.
Right now there's no video calling on the Android client, but iPhone users can now download a video-capable client and enjoy a few days of exclusive access while Android catches up. There were suggestions that Apple's approval process would slow up the iPhone version - Apple has, in the past, objected to applications that replicate functionality provided by Apple, claiming that such replication confuses users. But it seems Cupertino has become more relaxed about the whole thing recently and it seems that iPhone users can cope with having multiple video chat clients.
Not that Yahoo! is the only competitor to FaceTime on the iPhone: Fring already offers cross-platform video calling, and it isn't alone in that. But Yahoo is a much bigger brand and one that could take on Apple's FaceTime as the default video calling service.
Not that video calling is an instant path to riches: customers have made it very clear they won't pay for video calls, and the industry is still working out if customers will make video calls when they're free. If they will, then the companies involved will start working out how to pay for it. Until then it's just a money pit for companies and pointless fun for customers. ®