A French Web site, Mac4Ever, posted a short article claiming the Cupertino computer crafters are creating software for Mac OS X, presumably an update to iChat, that will allow desktop and notebook users to communicate via FaceTime with compatible iOS devices.
The information is not backed up with sources, but the site has been known to have semi-accurate predictions (SD Cards on last year's iMac release, though incorrect in predicting the release of iLife '11 in August of this year). Translated via Google Translate, the site reports that, "it is rumored that Apple is preparing to leave FaceTime for Mac and PC, the Mac version coming to settle down in the iChat software."
I still believe FaceTime is the most important feature introduced with iPhone (and iOS) 4. Considering its recent foray into social networking (Ping and Game Center), Apple is positioning itself as the quintessential personal connection company. By pioneering open communications standards like HTML5 (Internet) and FaceTime (video calling) Apple is able to protect its ecosystem of integrated hardware and software by providing an unmatched experience using those standards, proving Apple's value. It's genius really.
Including FaceTime compatibility on Mac OS X and Windows would be a major plus for users and cause a major scare for companies deep in the desktop video communications game (read: Skype). FaceTime is an open industry standard (Skype is not) for video chatting and (for now) only requires a Wi-Fi connection to use. Including FaceTime on Mac OS X and creating a corresponding Windows program would trump many of Skype's current advantages in the video calling market and thrust Apple to the head of the class in yet another niche.
The recent release of FaceTime for iPod touch shows that Apple has figured out how to authenticate the service without a phone provider--a hurdle that should clear the way for inclusion on desktop and notebook systems that have web camera capabilities.
And let's not forget about iPad. Rumors surrounding the initial iPad release and subsequent product breakdowns show that a front-facing camera is well within engineering specs for the touchscreen tablet. It would be hard to imagine the next iteration of the iPad without a camera and FaceTime.
Though it is widely expected that FaceTime will be added to iChat (part of Mac OS X), rumors of an imminent release of iLife '11 have suggested the inclusion of a "mystery application" replacing iDVD. Could this be a FaceTime-specific program? I'm still holding out for a vector drawing program to be included in iLife, and I think iChat makes more sense than a dedicated FaceTime application.
Would you ditch Skype (or other clients) in favor of FaceTime on your Mac or PC? Let us know in the comments!