Back in June, Apple spent a great deal of hoopla touting the new FaceTime feature of the iPhone 4 -- but the market for video chat is heating up quickly, and now Yahoo has lined up to be the next contender in the App Store as well as on Android devices.
Reuters is reporting that Yahoo is planning to update its popular Yahoo Messenger app to enable built-in video calling, according to the company’s vice-president of mobile for the Americas, David Katz. Yahoo’s video chat will be available as a free app for both the iPhone as well as Android devices.
Yahoo is clearly taking aim at Apple’s new FaceTime, which is already being challenged by rivals such as fring and the recently released Tango -- although neither of those companies have the brand recognition of Yahoo. What all three companies do have as a leg up on Apple is the ability to offer their video calling over both Wi-Fi and 3G, where FaceTime is (for now) a Wi-Fi only service that requires either an iPhone 4 or a fourth-generation iPod touch.
The free Yahoo app will enable video calling between other iPhone and Android users with the app installed, but will also extend to desktop PCs that have the software installed. Katz claims there are currently 81 million Yahoo Messenger users worldwide, so that’s a lot of folks to potentially talk to.
Yahoo’s app update appears to be ready to go, but still has to leap one last hurdle, which is Apple’s approval. Given that several competing apps with similar features already exist, this shouldn’t be an issue and the company expects the updated Yahoo Messenger to hit the App Store “soon.”