FaceTime. Now users could do video chat from mobile devices and Apple was the only player in the game with that capability.When Apple debuted the iPhone 4 with a front-facing camera it toted along a killer app that had been unavailable on mobile devices until then -
Everybody else has been playing catch up. Skype quickly moved to add video chat, one of its staple products, and then added Qik Video Connect earlier this year. Now, Yahoo has gotten into the game with its new Yahoo Messenger app for iOS. The new Yahoo Messenger for iOS has been optimized for iPad and can do video and voice calls, text chat, presence, send SMS and share photos in real-time. Importantly, iPad 2 users can video chat to talk with PCs. As a communications app, it is a strong entry from forgotten source of innovation.
The functionality of the Yahoo Messenger app is excellent. Video calling works seamlessly and is optimized for the front-facing camera on the iPad 2. As a video calling app, it challenges both Skype and FaceTime for ease of use and picture quality.
One of the first problems I have had with Yahoo Messenger is that it did not import all of my Yahoo email contacts. As such, I started the service with zero contacts in my queue at all. Yahoo has been throwing Messenger at users for several years but, unlike Google Chat (and now Google Talk), it has not reached critical mass of adopters in the U.S. who actually use it. If an app falls makes a video call in a forest and there is no one on the other end, does the app even exist? To be fair, Yahoo Messenger is well used internationally. Yet, so is Skype.
For this reason, Yahoo has smartly tied its contacts in with the ability to import contacts from Windows Live MSN Messenger. The theory is that, of the two services, users will have a deep contact list on at least one of them. Windows Live is widely used on PCs and in the enterprise and in terms of pure volume has more users than either Google Talk or Yahoo Messenger.
Speaking of Google Talk, it is curious that Yahoo Messenger was able to beat Google to the punch with a video calling app that functions with iOS. Yahoo has focused less in recent years on creating and maintaining technological endeavors (so long, Delicious) and more on beefing up its content offerings. Google is the complete opposite. Is it a sign of the cold war between Apple and Google that Mountain View has not made an app that can video chat with Cupertino? It is hard to tell, but for all the negative streams swirling around Yahoo, it took the initiative and built a good communications application for popular mobile devices. Wonder if anybody will actually use it.