I've been thinking a little more about Microsoft's acquisition of Skype and how it will affect users. I made a quip earlier about how I'd hate to be a podcaster who depends on Skype for their business. Honestly, pretty much every podcast I listen to relies on Skype. Now would be a great time for someone else to jump into the game with a first-class conferencing app.
But podcasting is a little bit of a niche market for Skype. The majority of Skype's use is regular people keeping in touch — especially overseas. My folks use Skype almost daily to communicate with a friend stationed in Iraq.
Now, I don't use Skype often. And I have never used it on Windows. But the Mac version actually took several steps backwards from the previous v2.8 to the rehashed v5. The UI is a mess. A few weeks ago, I did actually have to use Skype to video chat with one of my few PC-using relatives. It. Was. Awful. The video didn't start right away so I had to figure out how to get that going, then my uncle couldn't hear me, so he had to figure out what was wrong on his end with that. It took ten minutes of fiddling before we could even talk.
Compare this with Apple's FaceTime. For regular video chat, it is fantastic. You select the person you want to talk to, and the call connects. Every. Time. Instant audio and video. Drop dead simple.
FaceTime has one major downfall though: it only works between iPods touch, iPhones, iPads, & Macs. When FaceTime was introduced, it was billed as being an open spec that anyone could build upon. Unfortunately that hasn't happened yet.
Apple, now is the time to make your play. Get FaceTime for Windows out. Heck, get FaceTime on Android devices. Act soon, and FaceTime could be the next de facto video communication app for the rest of us.