Why Didn’t FaceTime Take Off Like Zoom Did During The Pandemic?

During this pandemic everybody and their dog is using Zoom. So much so it doesn’t seem that any other video chat app currently exists. And that includes FaceTime. It’s on a billion or so iPhones worldwide. And I can safely say that during the course of this pandemic, I have yet to use FaceTime for a single video call. Every video call I have been on has been done by Zoom. So why is that? I think I have two reasons for that:

  • FaceTime isn’t cross platform: That’s a problem if you want people to use it because while there is a billion or so iPhones, there’s about 2 billion or so Android phones. And that doesn’t take into account computers running Windows 10, Chromebooks, or other OSes. Now Apple wants to keep it exclusive to Apple devices to drive sales of Apple devices. But that strategy seems to have backfired as people who are stuck in lockdown want to communicate with friends and family regardless of what platforms they are on.
  • FaceTime is hard to use: For you to start a FaceTime call, you need the Apple ID of all the participants who you want to chat to, and they have to be added one at a time. And there’s no way to simply email a link that everyone can use to join the call. Contrast that with Zoom which makes creating a call easy and integrates that with calendar apps like Outlook and Apple Calendar. Take it from me, Apple has made a major mis-step by not building in scheduling a FaceTime call into the product years ago. The result is people run to Zoom as a result and they’ll never look at FaceTime again.

The folks at Apple Park…. Or more accurately people who normally work at Apple Park but are now working from home really need to take a hard look at FaceTime and make improvements because Apple has really missed the boat here and given Zoom a lead that they are not likely to give up anytime soon. And as a closing thought, some of what I have said about FaceTime could be copied and pasted for iMessage seeing as it suffers from the fact that it too is an Apple only platform that really needs to be opened up if they expect it to compete other messaging apps that are far more broadly used in the midst of this pandemic.

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