When Apple had initially unveiled FaceTime back in 2010, it had promised to make the feature an open industry standard allowing it to be adopted by other OEMs for their devices. While FaceTime is definitely popular, it is currently limited to people who own an Apple product.
While unveiling FaceTime, Apple had said that it is based on a number of open standards which would allow it to easily make it an open industry standard. Below is exactly what Steve Jobs had said while unveiling FaceTime in 2010 during the WWDC 2010 keynote:
“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.”
Eight years later though, Apple is yet to fulfill its promise. And as pointed out by CNet, the blame does not lie entirely on Apple. Apple has been embroiled in a patent dispute with VirnetX since 2013 and that might be the reason why FaceTime has not become an open standard as promised. To avoid infringing on VirnetX patents, Apple had to add “relay servers” instead of allowing phones and devices to communicate with each other directly during a FaceTime call. Now, these servers cost money and if Google or Microsoft end up implementing FaceTime, Apple would also have the headache of ensuring that its relay servers talk properly to that of Google.
As for its patent battle against VirnetX, Apple has already lost it and has been ordered to pay over $500 million to the company.
With iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, Apple has given FaceTime an upgrade and added group video calling support to it with up to 32 participants.