Fring's 3G video calling powers using the iPhone 4's front camera were so damn awesome they had to be pulled after they kinda overloaded Fring's connection to Skype. Now Skype's disconnected the service, and threatened it with legal action.
Fring's success was cemented, and resulted in lots of media attention, because its new iPhone app enabled two-way video calling over 3G networks while Apple's own FaceTime app is still limited to working over Wi-Fi only. Part of its system was a fully-licensed connection to Skype, enabling two-way calling with desktop Skype users ... but it was so immediately overused that Fring had to disconnect itself from Skype else it risked pulling its network down.
Now TechCrunch is reporting that the two firms have had a massive falling out. Fring says it's been cut off by Skype, and blames Skype for the problems. Skype says it was Fring's fault. Fring is calling Skype a bunch of "cowards" for being afraid of free and open competition, Skype's been apparently considering for a while if Fring's operation contravenes its terms and conditions.
It's a mess, and one that's bound to get more complex--particularly if legal action does ensue.
But Apple's FaceTime is the real headline-grabber here, and is destined to be as wildly successful as the iPhone itself; it's a transformationally powerful technology (as those new ads reveal), and it's going to be an open standard, which Apple even hopes rivals like Skype will actually integrate into their services. And sure, it's a crippled tech at the moment as it's limited to running over Wi-Fi only. But Apple's made it clear that this is a short-term issue, and soon it'll run over the airwaves properly (indeed, we wonder if this'll happen in Europe first, where we've had 3G video calling for years).
Once FaceTime is running the video-calling show, all this rivalry between Fring and Skype, or indeed any other similar video VoIP system, will seem a dim memory and, frankly, a silly tussle. Apple's app will seal up the market. Everyone else? Sorry, wrong number.
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