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IPhone -Apple's FaceTime Leaves Carrier Minutes for Voice Calls Only

June 21, 2010

Apple's FaceTime Leaves Carrier Minutes for Voice Calls Only

By Susan J. Campbell
TMCnet Contributing Editor
As much as we use texting and messaging as a primary channel to communicate instead of voice, we still want to preserve our minutes. For those wanting to take advantage of Apple’s new FaceTime (News - Alert) functionality, carrier minutes are still preserved.


According to a recent Silicon Insider article, an Apple rep is assuring readers that the company’s FaceTime video calls app will not use up carrier minute allotments, even if the calls are initiated within a voice call.

This rep reports that the voice call will end as soon as the FaceTime call connects. All FaceTime calls are conducted over WiFi (News - Alert), so they do not use carrier minutes.

So why the need to report this now? For one, there was some confusion over how the application would affect minutes given that FaceTime calls can be initiated within voice calls. Users weren’t sure if Apple (News - Alert) would keep the voice call running in the background in case the video chat dropped or someone had a WiFi signal go out.

The backup option sounds nice, but not if it drains minutes. According to Apple, this won’t be an issue. If a video chat is dropped, however, users will have to redial the voice call to continue with the conversation.

The question then remains as to whether or not FaceTime calls are reliable enough to negate the need for a backup. And, if this is the case, Apple will be able to drive significant amounts of video chatting activity as participants won’t have to worry about using call minutes. They may, in fact, prefer video chats over voice simply to save minutes.

The next version of FaceTime is set to work over 3G and Apple will have to work with its carrier partners to determine how best to bill these calls. Will they count as minutes towards voice calling, data toward monthly caps or something completely different? Once they have users hooked on the capability – it may not matter.
 
In other Apple news, the company couldn’t seem to stay out of the spotlight last week with the launch of pre-order capability on the new iPhone 4. Demand was so intense for this new phone, the company – and AT&T (News - Alert) – both sold out of their initial batches of the new device.

Last week, TMCnet’s Patrick Barnard asked if Nokia could slow Apple’s momentum in the smartphone market. Last week, the pre-orders on the iPhone (News - Alert) 4 were ten times the pre-orders for the iPhone 3GS last summer. It doesn’t look like anything will slow Apple’s dominance in this space.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
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