iPad 2 Settings Give Clue to Apple’s Direction

One of the tiniest additions to the iPad 2 may point to the future of Apple and all of telecommunications. And it gives us a clue to the secret of Apple’s success.
If you go to the Settings on the iPad 2, and then General, and then Sounds, you’ll see something different than what you get on the iPad 1. In addition to switches for mail, calendar, lock screen and keyboard sounds, you get to choose a Ringtone.
A ringtone? But the iPad 2 isn’t a phone. Or is it? The Ringtone sound setting is for incoming FaceTime “calls.”
This is a little hint, perhaps, that Apple doesn’t think of FaceTime as just an app. FaceTime is more than that. It might represent the future of telecommunications.
Apple has already shown they can come from completely outside an industry, enter it, and then dominate it. They did it in the music industry with the iPod and iTunes. They did it with the mobile phone industry with the iPhone. 10 years ago no one would have believed you if you said that in 2011 you would listen to music and make phone calls with devices made by Apple.
So, 10 years from now will we take it for granted that we make phone calls with FaceTime?
Look at the pattern. In the 1990s it was obvious to anyone in technology that small portable digital music players were the future. A few years later it was obvious that smart phones would replace mobile phones, PDAs and even cameras. Apple saw these obvious trends and simply made the devices that everyone wanted.
So, isn’t it obvious that in the future we’ll be using video to make phone calls? Why not? We’ve wanted it for decades. The technology is there. But no one was stepping in with a standard. Now Apple has.
But FaceTime uses the Internet, not old fashioned phone lines. It is kind of obvious that this is the future too. FaceTime isn’t a sign that Apple is becoming a telecommunications company. Apple is becoming something that replaces telecommunications companies. The telecommunications companies will evolve into bandwidth providers.
Apple is also doing this in the world of television with Apple TV and the iPad. Sure Apple TV is a small product compared to the iPod, iPhone and Mac. But it is the leading device of its kind. And isn’t it obvious that in the future everyone will have a device where they can order TV and movies al la carte?
Right now you can do very well with nothing but a bandwidth provider. You can use FaceTime and Skype for your phone, Apple TV and iTunes for TV. No need for a regular telephone or even cable. It is a bit of an adjustment as Apple TV and cable TV are not the same. But we’re getting there.
So perhaps the secret to Apple’s success is simply figuring out where technology will inevitably go, and then going there now instead of waiting.

Comments: 19 Responses to “iPad 2 Settings Give Clue to Apple’s Direction”

    Michael A.
    3/15/11 @ 5:14 pm

    This reminds me of a question I have. Do I have to have the Facetime app open on my Mac to receive Facetime calls? If so, must it use the video camera even when it’s idle? It’s distracting and battery draining to have it showing mirrored video from the camera all the time, otherwise I’d keep it open to get calls.

      3/15/11 @ 5:16 pm

      You do not have to have FaceTime running to receive calls. Not on the Mac, not on the iPad or iPhone. Interesting, eh?

        david
        6/27/11 @ 9:21 pm

        will i receive facetime calls if my ipad2 is turned off…if not, please explain what i need to do ( worried about running the battery down)…thanks

      Michael A.
      3/15/11 @ 6:02 pm

      Very interesting.

      Anyway, I’d love to see Facetime catch on as a standard, though I’m not too surprised people are slow to implement it on other platforms when Skype is already a good-enough solution for people who want video calling ability. Perhaps when Skype becomes a little more onerous with fees and ads some third party Android Facetime apps will catch on and it will eventually become an out-of-the-box feature.

      Another question I wonder about is infrastructure. I’m still looking for good information but it seems like Apple has some Facetime servers that do part of the magic right now and without them it just wouldn’t work, so broad acceptance of Facetime would probably mean other entities stepping up and sharing the server load, not just writing clients.

      david
      6/27/11 @ 9:18 pm

      will i be able to receive a face time call if my ipad2 is turned off ?

        6/28/11 @ 1:18 am

        If it is turned off, then it can’t receive calls, naturally. But you can put it to sleep instead and it will. It doesn’t use much battery if it is asleep. No battery at all if you simply plug it in to the charger if you aren’t using it anyway.

    Richard Johnston
    3/15/11 @ 5:41 pm

    Very clever, Gary. I have long remarked how little the home phone has changed when everything else in the communications area has evolved at rocket speed. Maybe soon very few people will have landlines so it won’t matter but of course as you are hinting all our Pad and Pods, etc could become the house phone. Everyone in the family will have their own line on a Star Wars style communicator. Think I’ll go cancel my old fashioned wired phone.

    Charlotte
    3/15/11 @ 5:43 pm

    Very cool. Good job on the article, Gary. I think you are right. Thanks!

    Michael in Dublin
    3/15/11 @ 6:12 pm

    Great article Gary, I think FaceTime and video tutorials like yours will also revolutionize education. Exciting that kids anywhere in the world who can get access to a device like it will be able to access the greatest teachers!

    Cameron
    3/15/11 @ 7:56 pm

    How is this different than iChat, other than possibly calling someone’s number instead of clicking on their username? Is your point that this is going to become standard?

      3/15/11 @ 8:06 pm

      iChat is Mac-only. And you had to have it running to know someone was trying to reach you.

    forkboy1965
    3/15/11 @ 10:03 pm

    And I’ll add that my few experiences with FaceTime thus far have been far better in terms of video quality than has been Skype over the past year.

    Skype’s audio and video quality have, at least in my personal experience, really dropped off.

    Ellen
    3/16/11 @ 2:34 am

    I like the way you’re thinking. An iPad in every room…..I mean phone, errrr tv!

    Bruce
    3/16/11 @ 7:13 am

    “Apple doesn’t think of FaceTime as just an app. FaceTime is more than that. It might represent the future of telecommunications”. That was my first thought the first time I saw face time.

    Nagual Addendum
    3/17/11 @ 2:37 pm

    Great perspective and thanks for connecting these dots!

    Eric Reinstein
    3/17/11 @ 4:29 pm

    Good thinking. But I’m not sure I’m following you about the end of telecommunications. Are you talking about the end of non-smart phones, voice calls, and landlines? They’re practically dead already, but companies like AT&T and Verizon aren’t going anywhere…

      3/17/11 @ 4:37 pm

      The end of landlines, at least as ways to connect telephones. In fact, the end of telephones now that I think of it. The iPhone is really a computer, right?
      The companies will simply become bandwidth providers.

    mike sanders
    3/18/11 @ 4:31 am

    Good stuff Gary love your videos and recommend them to my grandchildren all of whom have macs/iphone/ipod/ipad. They are the very people who will not accept cables and wires sticking out of everything, wifi means total freedom and the idea of talking to your friend face to face is just sooo cooool.
    I f we finally remaove all these wires maybe we can concentrate on all the other connections for charging devices and add-ons.

    chano
    4/5/11 @ 8:36 am

    Silly article.
    This was obvious in the 90s. That was obvious in the 00s. etc.
    It wasn’t obvious, else everyone would have done it. You would have built an iPod empire, not Apple, if it was that obvious.
    Since you’re such a genius at spotting the obvious next big big thing. What is it as at Spring 2011, buddy?
    Do tell us.
    It’s obvious that in life, everyone dies, but they get to pay a few taxes first – obviously!
    It’s obvious that, for the time being, the sun will keep on rising each day.
    It’s obvious that you are a dweeb who’s forte is ….. stating the obvious with the benefit of 12 20 hindsight. Gee, OMG, lovaduck, you’re sooo clevvverr mmmaaannn!
    Have a nice day.

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