Be afraid. Be very afraid.

It is a wide­ly held belief that Ste­ve Jobs is a man to trans­form indus­tries. He’s done it befo­re, and I think he (with his com­pa­ny Apple) has set his eyes to do it yet again. This time, it’s tele­pho­ny. And I can’t bla­me him, it is a god-awful indus­try we (as a spe­ci­es, glo­bal­ly) are put­ting up with.
Take the epi­to­me of modern pho­ne tech­no­lo­gy: the mobi­le pho­ne net­work. We’­re still using pho­ne num­bers (a tech­no­lo­gy that is a cen­tu­ry old and was opti­mi­zed for the rota­ry pho­nes and their elec­tro­me­cha­ni­cal coun­ter­parts in the swit­ching sys­tem), we’­re basi­cal­ly using a net­work desi­gned to deli­ver billable events and we’­re com­mu­ni­ca­ting with voice qua­li­ty that is actual­ly more than awful.
Enter FaceTime.
Face­Time takes the tele­pho­ne con­ver­sa­ti­on out of the old pho­ne net­work and puts it onto an IP net­work. It makes com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on easy and fun. And it’s no lon­ger just tied to the iPho­ne (which the car­ri­ers pro­ba­b­ly would have lik­ed), but also going to IP-only devices: iPod touch and all iPads. Apple usual­ly is known for deli­ve­ring good user expe­ri­ence, so pho­ne calls are good for the user.
But now, Apple is set­ting out to be not just the media cent­re of the world (with music and video alre­a­dy going their way), but the new pho­ne sys­tem, too. Bet­ween the new Apple TV and Face­Time, I do have some ide­as why Apple needs a new data center …
[EDITED] I do not think that the video tele­pho­ny is what makes Face­Time so par­ti­cu­lar­ly important or game-chan­ging. I think it is the seam­less­ness in which the pho­ne and IP net­work inter­act. Ulti­m­ate­ly, redu­cing the pho­ne car­ri­ers just to ano­ther form of data car­ri­ers. I do know that Sky­pe also works sui­ta­b­ly well and has a good instal­led base. But what is dif­fe­rent here is that Face­Time is auto­ma­ti­cal­ly instal­led on every iOS device, and inte­gra­ted well with the enti­re Apple expe­ri­ence (think: Address book, MobileMe, …) 

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