When Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the addition of a new video conferencing tool called FaceTime to the iPhone 4, he mentioned that it was an open project and that anyone could work with it. He also stressed that the iPhone 4 was the first iOS-powered device to get the system, which certainly implied that we would see more of them with it. Sure enough, we did when the iPod Touch fourth generation was announced. The problem is, this is still not nearly enough devices.
We’ve heard rumors that the iPad 2 will have FaceTime, and there is even a chance that the service is coming to Macs and PCs, but in my opinion, these have to be more than rumors. Apple has shown commercials of people chatting about haircuts and checking in with the family, but until the system is more prevalent, this is just simply not going to be true.
I recently got my iPod Touch 4G, and while I was all excited to try out FaceTime, I quickly discovered I had no one to use the service with beyond our own Jon Rettinger. As often as Jon and I have phone meetings, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but we really don’t need to see each other to chat. Where it really let me down was with my best friend who as soon as I told her I had it she wanted to jump on a computer and try it out with me. I explained to her that functionality did not yet exist, and that’s when we realized that FaceTime is just way too limited right now to be considered a selling point.
People are used to communicating how, when and where they want these days, so not just being able to do it really limits its appeal. However, if it just starts becoming a pleasant bonus to other items you buy, then it has a shot at wider adoption. “Oh, yeah, we can do that, my iPad has it now!” Until such time as it becomes an afterthought it won’t turn into a selling point. For now it is just a “ha ha” amusement you play with for a day, and then you just don’t think about it any more.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the service has a lot of life in it, and will be with us for years to come, but it is also going to be years before it comes to pass that people use it without having to give it some serious thought.
What say you? Is FaceTime ever going to take off? What would it take?