Apple has removed the beta tag for their FaceTime for Mac and released version 1.0 of the video calling application on the Mac App Store priced at $0.99. The new version will apparently also be shipping as standard with the new MacBook Pro which includes a FaceTime HD camera and will enable users to make calls in 720p HD. Users with other devices such as the new MacBook Air won’t be so lucky and will have to stick with SD.
The new version of FaceTime offers very few apparent changes over the free public beta, which notably is still available. Many users will understandably balk at the fact that Apple has attched a price tag to the software, but there a couple of good reasons behind it.
First, if FaceTime takes off in the way that Skype has and Apple offers it free, they would essentially have lost half a billion dollars in revenue simply by not electing to attach the $0.99 price tag. Now, Apple is obviously very well off but is not in the habit of giving away free software too often and only an idiot would give up several hundred million dollars of revenue.
Second, is the Skype issue. Skype is currently free and will probably remain so, but Skype does charge for group video calls. While the FaceTime application does not support this feature at the moment, an ideal way to compete with Skype would be to offer this feature in the future but to offer it without charging any extra. All of a sudden, that $0.99 cost seems pretty damn reasonable.
Our advice is to pay the $0.99. After all, it’s only a buck and you are getting an amazingly good and stable Skype alternative with better features and HD call quality (where capable) while using less bandwidth. And just keep a close eye on FaceTime in the future. If Apple are serious about making this application a market leader, then you’ll be glad you went with it.
Update: According to MacRumors, the $0.99 charge is due to accounting requirements