Yahoo (s YHOO) is about to launch a new series of video calling apps for mobile devices, Reuters reports. David Katz, Yahoo’s VP of Mobile for the Americas, told the wire service that the company would launch apps that will allow users of its Yahoo (s YHOO) Messenger to make video calls on supporting devices.
Yahoo is working to make the app available on iPhone and Android (s GOOG) mobile devices, enabling a new way for users to video chat between the mobile platforms. The app is expected to be free and will work with users’ existing Yahoo Messenger contact lists.
Apple is pushing hard to make its FaceTime video chat the killer app for the newest version of the iPhone. With a front-facing camera, iPhone 4 users within range of WiFi can chat with other iPhone 4 users. The feature has become so popular that some users have suggested FaceTime be extended to Apple TV to compete with similar new consumer video chat applications from Logitech (s LOGI) and Cisco. (s CSCO)
But FaceTime is only available to Apple customers, which limits its availability. The Yahoo app, by comparison, would work on iPhone and Android mobile devices. According to the Reuters report, another key differentiator between the upcoming Yahoo apps and FaceTime is that, while FaceTime is only available over WiFi, the Yahoo app will also be available over mobile carriers’ wireless networks as well.
Yahoo isn’t alone in trying to make mobile video chat interoperable between multiple mobile platforms and devices; a startup called Tango that just launched recently enables iOS and Android users to video chat with each other, even if they don’t have front-facing cameras. The big advantage Yahoo has over Tango is that Yahoo Messenger already has wide consumer acceptance, even among users that won’t be using it for video calling. Because it already has user’s contact lists, it won’t have to build video chat connections from scratch.
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