FaceTime and the second generation of the iPad

With the new iPhone 4 Apple introduced a new video conferencing application that allows users to place video calls directly from their phones, through WiFi networks.  While people have been able to do video conferencing through several other means for quite a while, this is the first time that it has been made so easy on a device which not only is very portable, but is already in the hands of millions of people within a few weeks of its introduction.

This widespread availability of the FaceTime application may have huge implications for future versions of the iPad and competing devices.  Recently Cisco announced its plans to release a tablet like device running Google’s Android with a focus on the Enterprise Market and video call capabilities.  While such a device might be a good fit for organizations which are already heavily committed to Cisco’s voice and video conferencing infrastructure, it will probably face a hard battle against a camera equipped second generation iPad.

Consider for a moment that by the time a second generation iPad hits the market Apple may well have sold upwards of 20 million FaceTime enabled iPhones.  All those iPhones will be able to receive and place calls to a camera equipped iPad, making the iPad’s video calling capabilities immediately useful.   By the same token, a large number of executives who are already iPhone users will be able to place and accept video conference calls from home or while travelling without having to carry around anything but their mobile phones.

In fact considering Apple’s approach to delivering functionality that is useful and immediately usable to users it may just be that Apple decided to release the iPad without a camera exactly because it had plans to release it in the iPhone first.  As millions of people would be buying iPhones, regardless of its video call capabilities, by introducing this feature first in the iPhone Apple can be sure that a person buying a brand new iPad 2nd generation will immediately be able to see the benefits of being able to video call friends, regardless of whether or not these friends have purchased a new iPad.

The iPad is already being widely used in business scenarios, with or without formal corporate IT backing.  The iPad is quickly becoming the device of choice for going into a meeting and taking some notes and being able to quickly check something on your email or on the Web.  With a starting price of $499, the iPad is an investment that many are willing to make just to get rid of the carrying weight of a regular notebook and at the same time they are personal and portable enough for people to simply presume or pretend that it is the same as using a Palm or iPod and that corporate IT shouldn’t have anything to say about it.

What all this means is that by the time other devices that want to compete either in the video calling or just business tablet category reach the market, they may find the iPad is already firmly entrenched in those areas and have the backing of many top level executives which are already making heavy use of iPads for taking notes, reading, etc and making video calls from their iPhones.

The combination of all of the iPad’s current functionalities with the ability to immediately integrate with millions of 4th generation iPhones,through video calls, might just help Apple secure a huge chunk of the tablet market, even after many competitors reach the market.

Of course, all this really depends on whether or not people really want to make video  calls.

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One Response to “ “FaceTime and the second generation of the iPad”

  1. Clint says:

    Nice analysis.

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