Who’s Using FaceTime, and Why?

FaceTime is one of the most popular communication technologies that is used today.  With Apple reporting earlier this year that there over over 1 billion active devices worldwide, it makes sense that FaceTime would be a premier video chat and communication technology. Active Apple devices, according to a 2016 Verge.com article, are devices that are being used regularly.  This means using the “App Store” and checking in with the iCloud.  Also, the iPhone isn’t the only thing that people are buying and using from Apple, according to the same Verge.com article Apple’s other devices are selling rapidly.

“The iPhone remains the crux of Apple’s business. The company sold 74.78 million iPhones in Q1 2016, by far the largest contributor to its $18.4 billion in profit on sales of $75.9 billion. That marks the most profitable quarter of any single public corporation in history. However, Apple’s second-quarter forecast spells out a stutter in iPhone sales for the first time, and the company’s predictions include its first year-over-year revenue decline in 13 years. All the more reason for Apple to find new iOS products to sell consumers to keep its active install base over 1 billion.”

The iPhone itself was introduced in 2007, however FaceTime did not come along until 2010.  The iPhone has shown rapid periods of growth since its inception, and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down.  The number of iPhones sold worldwide has grown each year since 2007, meaning from 2010 on, more and more people keep on using FaceTime.  This isn’t even mentioning the other Apple devices that have FaceTime, like Mac computers and iPads for example.

apple-graph

Picture via Apple (statista 2015)

An interesting note is that after the first year FaceTime was available, that being 2010, the number of iPhone’s sold made a drastic jump, almost doubling in sales in 2011.  The FaceTime program was an instant success, with it being easy to use, all of Apple’s users could jump right on and video call anyone.  Even grandparents who wanted to see their grandkids could just pick up the phone, and with the touch of a button have a near in person conversation with them.

As for how widespread the use of the iPhone and other Apple devices are, well it can only be described as worldwide.  According to Apple.com, “With global sales of US$16 billion in merchandise in 2011, Apple leads the United States retail market in terms of sales per unit area. Apple has 486 retail stores in 19 countries and an online store available in 39 countries.”  In this interactive webpage on Apple.com you can see all of the different retail stores in each state in the U.S., and then switch countries and see how many stores are in those countries as well.  The iPhone 6s was the latest model of iPhone until the iPhone 7 was released a couple of months ago, and this map below shows where they were sold and being used.

iphone-6s-availability-map

picture via pocketnow

Now that we know who is using FaceTime, the question remains of why people would use this, and what effects it has on the people that do use it.  This short story explains just one of the ways the FaceTime can help people communicate with one another.

“When Danny Canal starts to speak, conversations at other café tables around him fall silent. Canal, a young man in his early twenties, is doing something that looks almost like magic — he’s talking on the phone without even opening his mouth. Canal laughs into the iPhone in his left hand, while his right hand gestures and draws shapes in the air, a ballet of hand motions. His conversation partner on the screen is doing the same, the two of them performing a pantomime pas de deux.

Canal, a shipbuilding student from Hamburg, is deaf and he’s currently experiencing a revelation. Since he communicates with his friends mostly in sign language, until recently he didn’t have much use for mobile phones, unless it was for sending text messages.

With the introduction of Apple’s iPhone 4, a new era began for Canal. The new phone has a camera on the front side, above the screen, a set-up which allows him to make video calls even when his is away from his computer.”

That short excerpt explains how a face to face meeting can now happen from anywhere around the globe with a simple internet connection, and how people that wouldn’t normally be able to communicate say over the phone, can now communicate effectively.

I myself have had a personal experience using this technology for a very important relationship.  My previous girlfriend went to a school about 3 hours from UConn, and it was very hard not being able to see her all the time.  FaceTiming regularly was a great way for us to talk and communicate because it gave a much more intimate feel to the conversation.  Many long distance relationships are helped by this technology.

facetime-screenshot

Screenshot of the author of the article “It’s Complicated: The FaceTime Relationship” video chatting with her boyfriend.

From a Medium.com article, entitled “It’s Complicated: The FaceTime Relationship”, the author talks about her personal experiences with FaceTime in a long distance relationship, saying that it really helped her and her significant other, and also noting that without it, they may not have been able to stay together.

“My fiancé and I met while I was on vacation in Florida. He was living there at the time, and I was in Chicago. We met through friends on this trip, connected, and — because we are both iPhone users — began calling one another on FaceTime almost immediately.  In many ways, FaceTime made our relationship so much more fulfilling. It also made it possible for us to get to know one another on a deeper level. We didn’t just hear each other; we saw each other. We received visual signals of happiness, anger and sorrow. We could sit in silence but still connect. We became more real to one another.”

With all the people using iPhones now-a-days it makes it so much easier to connect with someone.  In November of 2015 there were just over 101 million iPhone users in the United States according to Digital Company Statistics.  This simply means the 101 million people have the ability to connect face to face and have a conversation with one another by just opening their phone and clicking a button.  This isn’t even counting people with Apple computers or even iPads, which makes that an even more amazing statistic.

This technology has become such a successful product for many different reasons, many of which are mentioned above.  The main reason is because of ease of use, and just simply because of how many people have the technology at their disposal.  When FaceTime was introduced as an application on the iPhone in 2010, millions of people already had iPhones, meaning millions of people already had the ability to FaceTime.  The very next year in 2011, the number of iPhones sold nearly doubled.  People who did not have iPhones were going out and buying them.  It was not solely because of FaceTime, but that certainly was a factor.  People bought iPhones for all it had to offer, but having the ability to video chat with no other equipment or extra applications drew people to Apple products.  Just simply having a phone number, and the iPhone was enough to make a face to face call half way around the world, and that to me, and millions of other people was just incredible.

FaceTime is a technology that is always evolving and changing.  The people who engineer it are constantly trying to make fixes and improve it so the people using it continue to use it for all the certain needs that they have. This last excerpt from the Medium.com article describes what FaceTime means to people, and how big of an impact it has on their lives.

“I would argue that this particular piece of added technology actually does make life better, because it opens up more avenues to human happiness and fulfillment. However much more time I spent engaging in FaceTime calls was spent developing a meaningful, lasting relationship with my life partner — and for me, like any good relationship, that is worth the work.”