I recently bought an iPhone 4. I know exactly one other person with an iPhone 4. Suddenly, it was like we were the last two people left on the face of the earth. Why? Because we’re the only two people we know who can talk via FaceTime.
A new video chat app will now make it possible for my friend and I to ease our co-dependence on one another and re-expand our social networks. Tango, a mobile video chat service, launched a week and a half ago and has received over 700 reviews in the App Store. But on Tuesday, the company made an even bigger announcement: since launching only 10 days ago, Tango has already reached its one millionth download and is now the No. 1 social-networking application in the App Store. It took FourSquare one year to reach one million downloads, and Twitter took two years.
First off, Tango is cross-platform, so iPhone users can call Android users and vice versa. Secondly, Tango works on 3G, 4G, and WiFi, which means that unlike FaceTime, iPhone 4 users can call iPhone 3 users. Furthermore, it means users can switch seamlessly between networks, so they can maintain video chats on the go. Big deal—Skype can also operate on those networks and features Instant Messaging to boot, you say. To that I say, Nuh-uh! As it turns out (and I was quite surprised to learn this), Skype does not support video.
As other players enter the mobile video chat ring (Yahoo recently launched a mobile version of Yahoo Messenger that will support video chat), Tango’s big competitive edge is going to be its ease and simplicity. By downloading the app, the contacts in your phone are automatically imported into your Tango contacts (if they, too, have downloaded the Tango app), so you don’t have to re-enter names and phone numbers. And the service is free.
I am curious to see how the service compares to Yahoo Messenger, which not only supports video chat but also includes instant messaging. Tango still has a one up on Yahoo as Yahoo’s mobile Messenger only operates on the iOS platform, but if it goes cross-platform (and it looks like it will in the near future), it may actually prove to be a formidable contender with Tango.
But until that day, Tango is dominating the market. The app has been downloaded in 125 countries, some of which have phone number formats that the app doesn’t even support—which means users are downloading the app and finding ways to Tango anyway. Tango co-founder and CTO Eric Setton told me via video chat (on Tango) that one of the company’s proudest achievements was a review from a deaf user who gave the service high ratings for its picture clarity, which allowed him to sign clearly.
And the company has some big plans in the works. Its current focus is to make sure that Tango users are satisfied, and later it plans on expanding to other platforms.
“Our long-term dream is to bring video chats to every screen in your house,” said Setton. “At some point we want you to be able to have a mobile video chat and then walk into your house and throw the conversation onto the TV.” But that’s a ways off, Setton added.
For now, the company is just enjoying the view from the top.
Image source: tango.me