Yahoo Oct. 12 said it has added video calling capability to its instant messaging application for the iPhone, rivaling Apple’s own FaceTime video conferencing product.
Available for free now in Apple’s App Store, Yahoo Messenger App for iPhone let users make voice and video calls to their contacts using Yahoo Messenger on their PCs, as well as low-cost national and international calls to landline or mobile phones.
Interestingly, the app mimics the capabilities of Apple’s FaceTime video calling app, which the company launched with the iPhone 4 in June.
The app works only between users with iPhone 4 handsets or new iPod Touches and only via WiFi, but it’s still an app that Apple would normally ban because it provides similar functionality of its own software.
Apple, before relaxing its developer terms last month, banned third-party apps such as Google Voice for competing with iPhone features.
Yahoo’s Messenger App for iPhone lets one user make video calls and stream live video to another via WiFi and a wireless carrier’s network, and allows users to make voice calls to their Messenger contacts. Users must have an iPhone 4 or 3GS unit to conduct video calls.
Users can also send unlimited, free text messages with the app, which will run in the background as users access other iPhone apps. Some Messenger users may want to share photos and video. They can do so, in real time, with their Messenger contacts.
Yahoo confirmed the new Messenger App for iPhone functionality, which Reuters scooped, in this blog post, which includes a video demo of the software.
Reuters also noted that Yahoo will bring video calling capabilities to Yahoo Messenger App for Android in the future.
Yahoo has been more aggressive with its mobile apps of late, launching in July Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger applications for Android as well as a search widget for the operating system created by Google for smartphones, tablets and other mobile computing devices.
The company’s strategy makes sense: Yahoo is one of the leading mobile advertising providers, with 9 percent of the total U.S. market, according to IDC.
Luring users with new functionality could help Yahoo maintain or boost its mobile ad share in a competitive market where Google, Apple, Microsoft and others are aggressively pursuing the ad dollars.