Zombie apps still function, still have users, but they’re not growing and thriving. Neglect has made them less than they once were but nobody has the desire to reanimate the walking corpse or destroy the zombie with a blow to the head (for some reason, fire also works). FaceTime has become one of Apple’s zombie apps.
FaceTime— Mac, iPhone, iPad– is a videotelephone app, a collection of protocols cobbled together into an easy to setup and use video and audio conference utility that started life back in 2010. Steve Jobs did the deed, and even said FaceTime would go open source and be available everywhere.
That would be called Skype. Or, maybe Facebook Messenger, or any one of a dozen such face-to-face applications that work standalone on various devices, or are embedded into other social media apps. Whatever plans Steve Jobs concocted for FaceTime back in the day have yet to bear much fruit. Yes, FaceTime is loved and used by a few hundred million faithful followers– Mac, iPhone, and iPad users– but remains a closed system.
Closed? Yes. And no.
FaceTime uses a number of open industry standards, including H.264, AAC, SIP and IETF signaling protocols, but FaceTime won’t connect to Skype users. FaceTime is Apple only. And in many cases doesn’t even work on Apple products where it once worked just fine. That sounds like a zombie app to me. iOS 4, 5, and 6.x supported FaceTime, but no more.
It’s an arguable point, but I have yet to use a face-to-face video app that’s as easy as FaceTime, and the app’s video quality remains as good as any I use (and mostly dependent upon broadband speed and camera quality), but Apple isn’t showing FaceTime any love except in a few since forgotten iPhone TV commercials from a few years ago.
For all intents and purposes, FaceTime is dead, having become a zombie app which seems to have the physical characteristics of life but is now devoid of soul.
Apple has long been a company high on sizzle, less on the taste of the steak. FaceTime is sizzle. But there’s no money in video calls, and there are plenty of similar utilities available on both Mac and iOS, and work well on other platforms, so FaceTime is no longer unique.
FaceTime died of neglect. Why?
Back to the money trail. To move FaceTime deeper into the future Apple would need to devote engineering resources. Making FaceTime available on Android or Windows seems to be counterintuitive since the company makes money the old fashioned way– by selling hardware. I’m of the opinion that Apple has only a few hundred highly qualified software engineers that travel around the company working on applications and updates. Right now they’re probably working on iTunes– which makes money and means something to the company’s bottom line– and FaceTime just isn’t getting any, well face time.