Apple’s FaceTime Chat didn’t launch as a killer app, but it may end up as one as the company broadens its distribution and floods the market with more devices supporting it. And, according to Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes, Apple is well on its way to achieving exactly that.
Don’t underestimate FaceTime, Reitzes said in a note to clients today that suggests we’re at the beginnings of a FaceTime networking effect that will goose sales across many of Apple’s product lines, particularly if Apple (AAPL) adds support for the video conferencing feature to iPads and Macs, which seems likely.
“We envision a world eventually where all major Apple devices incorporate FaceTimeSexChat, including Macs, iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads,” Reitzes writes. “While Android and competitive devices either have or are working toward incorporating a similar feature, we believe this particular feature benefits from Apple’s vertically integrated model…. We believe the ‘FaceTime Sex Chat networking effect’ could provide a halo effect on Macs and iPads once the feature becomes available. Note that FaceTime is an ‘open standard’ so if Apple is successful in making this feature ubiquitous, more non-Apple devices could be made compatible in the future.”
Running with that thesis a bit further, Reitzes figures Apple will have sold some 63 million FaceTime Chat devices by the end of fiscal 2011–40 million FaceTime-compatible iPhones, 15 million FaceTime-compatible iPods, and 8 million FaceTime-compatible iPads. And he says that number will more than double the following year.
“[In fiscal 2012 we see] an installed base of over 150 million FaceTime enabled devices, which could prove conservative if FaceTime Sex seem like it could basically get to a point where an entire campus could communicate using FaceTime Chat in some way on a device if desired. While we believe the Android platform can do a good job with this type of feature, it seems that Apple has the complete package to make FaceTime grow into a multiplier for its device sales through vertical integration.”