Google Duo Promises To Bring The Pain To Skype
When 3G arrived all those years ago one of the features that carriers thought would drive adoption was video calling. Unfortunately they badly missed the market with their calling costs and understanding of the desire to use the feature.
Since then Skype has taken ownership of the home to home video calling market and FaceTime has become the de facto standard for mobile video calls. You know that's the case because you'll hear non-technical people using them as verbs. Ex-pats calling home don't ring, they Skype. Apple customers take every opportunity to FaceTime each other.
Well today's IO conference brought the announcement of Duo, a video calling app that's deeply integrated into Android and gives the platform a video service that Hangouts could never be.
So with FaceTime locked to iOS users and Skype and Duo being cross platform, video calling is gradually being fragmented into services where you'll need to know what sort of device your friends, family or colleagues have before you attempt to call them.
In theory Skype, as the only service that is truly cross platform with desktop and mobile apps for everyone, should be in a strong position to compete here. But it won't. Users will choose their platform default and almost certainly choose Duo for Android to iOS calls - if they bother with them at all. Its strength on the desktop will keep Skype valid for a little while longer, but as the desktop continues to lose importance in users lives have no doubt that it will fall under the weight of Apple and Google's better mobile integration.
Of course if Microsoft had a stronger mobile platform it would have a beach head to launch a Skype offensive from, offering its 'every device' capability as a justification for installation on iPhones and Androids alike. With Windows Mobile withering away that opportunity is lost. How many people even know of the existence of a Windows Mobile phone, never mind know someone who uses one.
Microsoft's future as a services company rather hinges on how long it takes Google and Apple to wipe its footprint off their devices and by extension make them irrelevant. This is the reason why Microsoft needed to make Windows Mobile work. That it failed to do so is going to be a source of much pain for the company in the not too distant future.