When Steve Jobs originally introduced FaceTime in 2010, he promised that the feature would be an open industry standard, allowing other companies and smartphone makers to adopt it. 8 years later, however, FaceTime remains closed and exclusive to the Apple ecosystem. An interesting new piece from CNET delves into why this is likely the case…

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CNET’s Sean Hollister points to Steve Jobs’ original quote from the 2010 introduction of FaceTime:

“Now, FaceTime is based on a lot of open standards — H.264 video, AAC audio, and a bunch of alphabet soup acronyms — and we’re going to take it all the way. We’re going to the standards bodies starting tomorrow, and we’re going to make FaceTime an open industry standard.”

Of course, despite Jobs’ promise Apple has yet to make FaceTime into an open standard – much like its others services such as iMessage.

Hollister speculates that one contributing factor to Apple not making FaceTime open could be its ongoing legal troubles with patent troll VirnetX. VirnetX has come after Apple over networking technology used by FaceTime, which forced Apple to rewrite FaceTime:

Apple was forced to majorly change how FaceTime works to avoid infringing on the patents of a company called VirnetX. Instead of letting phones communciate directly with each other, Apple added “relay servers” to help the phones connect.

To use the relay servers that FaceTime is based on, Apple would presumably have to charge or require companies to use their own servers – which could hinder the experience across various devices.

Ultimately, Hollister notes of the benefits an open FaceTime standard could bring:

But that doesn’t make a broken promise less frustrating. Particularly now that Apple could potentially fix annoying business video calls as well. A Skype-killing video chat service that worked on Mac, iOS *and* Windows, Android and the open web? That’s something I bet companies would be happy to pay for, too.

What do you think? Do you still want Apple to make FaceTime an open standard, or is it better left as an Apple-exclusive service? Read more in Sean Hollister’s excellent op-ed for CNET.


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