Analysts often point to the introduction of video conferencing – branded as FaceTime by Apple – as a chief selling point for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s soon to be released iPhone 4. However, a nagging question had remained until Sunday: won’t video calls drain your cellular minutes? Over the weekend, Apple put the doubting minds at ease.
“The voice call ends as soon as the FaceTime call connects,” an Apple representative told Silicon Alley Insider Sunday. Because FaceTime uses Wi-Fi, no carrier minutes will be used.
The original question arose due to the ability of FaceTime chats to begin within a voice call, causing some iPhone fans to wonder whether the video conference will ride on the existing cellular connection. However, Apple’s comments now appears the company believes a FaceTime connection is reliable enough to not need a cell-based ‘safety net.’ Indeed, if you’re FaceTime chat drops, you’ll need to call the party back (using the cellular link) and re-establish the connection.
When Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone 4 at the recent Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, he said negotiations with carriers on how to handle FaceTime conversations were still ongoing and would likely not be resolved by the end of the year.
During last week’s orgy of analyst approval of the iPhone 4, the experts often pointed to FaceTime to support their belief the new handset meant more profit for Apple. Oppenheimer’s Yar Reiner, Kaufman Bros.’ Shaw Wu and Piper Jaffray’s Apple point man Genee Munster all mentioned FaceTime as the break-out feature likely to grab consumer attention.