So yesterday, the first phone to ever have video calling was re-released to huge fanfare. For me, it was a great decision by Nokia to rebrand the Nokia 7650 and allow a 3rd party company to handle the presentation and advertising. The new 7650, or iPhone 4 as it’s now known, offers a multitude of new features, or rather a serious upgrade of the existing features it had when it first came out, so things like video calling and multitasking have been improved upon from what was in the original model when it came out in 2003.
Before I go too far into this, I would like to say, I think, and always have thought, the iPhone was a nice device, they always have been. My problem has always been the ecosystem, the constant fawning and all the bullshit that comes out of Apple’s marketing system. Plus, the one thing that would tempt me to get an iPhone, well, there’s actually not an app for that, go figure.
In this post, I really want to concentrate on one particular area of bullshit from the Apple marketing department that people are already lapping up more greedily than a porn star at the end of her scene. FaceTime. Video calling. Skype. Whatever you want to really call this new feature, it’s still something that has been around for years and is nothing new or innovative, and yet everyone is treating this as a game changer.
So video calling can’t really be applied to this feature, since it can only be done over wifi at the moment, so this tends to lend itself more towards Skype than to actual video calling. This seems a little strange as Skype already has an iPhone/iTouch app, so it would be interesting to see what they think about this new feature. But here’s the major difference between Skype and FaceTime: Skype can be done to any device running Skype, whether that’s another mobile device or a PC of some description; FaceTime is iPhone4 to iPhone4 only. So they’ve taken quite a good idea (Skype) and poorly implemented it.
The other thing to take note of regarding the Skype/FaceTime thing, Skype is here now. You don’t even need some funky new iPhone on which to use it. It works. And, if you were feeling really peverse, would probably work on your 3G too, unlike FaceTime.
But this is where the Apple marketing bullshit comes in, and even (and I’m bracing myself for a world of comment abuse here) the Jobs bullshit comes in. At yesterday’s keynote, he said that “After growing up with TV shows like The Jetsons and Star Trek I have been dreaming about video calling, and it’s real now.” No, Steve, it’s been real for a while, perhaps you should have been awake a little more than you were dreaming and you would have seen that. It’s all bullshit.
Further marketing bullshit can be seen in the above video, coming from, aptly enough, their Vice President of iPhone Product Marketing, Greg Joswiack (who sounds like the cheap imitation Wozniak). In the video, he says that with the iPhone 3Gs they “brought you such features as video recording” and that the iPhone4 is going to “change the world forever, again.” So with the first quote they’re basically saying “yeah, it took us to the third version of our phone to deliver a feature which pretty much every camera enabled phone could do” and with the second quote, fuck off. It’s not going to change the world again. For the most part, the big changes for the iPhone, as demoed yesterday, is the handset itself, there’s nothing that new on the platform to use for developers, unless you’re a mono or flash developer, in which case there’s nothing at all for you.
The iPhone4 is a nice new device, but let’s be honest and realistic here, it’s nothing revolutionary. It’s mostly just catching up with the current devices already on the market.
As an irritating side note, I was having a discussion about this with @jas and was saying about how FaceTime is just the same as Skype, only worse, and went to demonstrate it by installing Skype on my own phone (HTC HD2) with the intention of Skyping him with a video call, just to show that it’s already here without iPhone4. I was very frustrated, and quite angered to discover that Skype have pulled the Windows Phone version of their client for reasons that could have come straight out of Cupertino.