Tag Archives | Fring

It's Skype vs. Fring in VoIP War of the Words

Looks like Fring made too many waves by updating its iPhone app to support two-way video chat. After a short time when iPhone 4 owners could use Fring to video chat with desktop PCs using Skype, Fring pulled all Skype support, at first temporarily, but now for good.

Both sides of this relationship gone sour tell different stories. Fring says it was blocked by Skype in an “anti-competitive ambush.” Skype says that’s not true, but claims Fring violated terms of use for its API, and was damaging the Skype brand by temporarily pulling support. No matter who’s telling the truth, iPhone 4 owners can’t make video calls to PCs anymore.

As long as Skype and Fring are slinging mud at each other, let’s look at some other iPhone-to-PC video calling scenarios that would render this break-up obsolete:

It’s possible that other platforms will adopt Apple’s Facetime, which is an open standard. Facetime desktop software seems like a no-brainer, but it needs to allow PC-to-PC calling or it’ll never get the widespread adoption Skype currently enjoys.

Google Talk is in the opposite position. It’s all over PCs through an optional plug-in for Gmail, iGoogle and Orkut, but lacks two-way video support on phones. Still, adding support could cause more friction with Apple and with Sprint, which uses Qik for video chat on the HTC Evo 4G.

Skype could theoretically support video chat for iPhone 4 some day, but the company has dragged its feet on several iPhone features, including 3G calling, which finally arrived in May, and iOS4 multitasking, which is still missing. The company gave Gizmodo a murky answer on video calling for mobile phones, which read, in part, “We’re betting big on video, and we intend to set the bar on mobile video calling.” Whatever that means.

Then there’s Fring. Like Facetime, Fring desperately needs a desktop application, I’d say even more so than Facetime because the software already supports Android and Symbian video calling as well. The Skype fiasco proves that Fring can’t lean too heavily on third-parties, so if Fring really wants the spotlight — and to swing at Skype — it needs to move onto the one platform Skype has dominated, the PC.