Video Chat Will Never Take Off Until We Have Standards
Certainly, it seems as if video chat is the next great frontier in tech. Wednesday's announcement of video calling on Facebook through a partnership with Skype followed last week's debut of Google+, which also made video calling a central feature.
Social networks aren't the only ones focusing on video chat. Apple has committed to video with its Facetime offering, and it has all but become commonplace to see front facing cameras on both tablets and smart phones these days.
There's one issue -- not one of these options have yet to become overly successful.
"Facebook's video calling feature is a message to companies who thrive on digital communication tools that the landscape is changing," says Rob Seaver, CEO of integrated voice calling service Vivox. "Standalone applications, multiple accounts or phone numbers and silos of communities are beginning to morph into more seamless and natural communication options."
Seaver's comments may highlight the problem with the video chat solutions offered now: that the fact that there are so many disparate communications options simply makes it difficult for any one to catch on. You could say the lack of a standard could be video's biggest problem.
No one wants to have several different windows open to communicate. In communication, interoperability is key. Imagine if the fact that you had an AT&T cell phone prevented you from calling your friend on T-Mobile. Would you really want to buy a second phone just to talk to that friend? Of course not.
While I'm not asking for all the video providers to stop competing with each other, I am asking for these industry players to agree on a basic set of standards. The only way to ensure video ever takes off is that people can talk to each other. Innovate above and beyond this, but at least ensure basic interoperability.
This has become all the more important given the fact we now have at least four different mobile operating systems in existence. With video the next logical step after voice, competing technologies are not going to work. Wouldn't the carriers be happy too, since they'd benefit from increased data usage, and thus increased revenues given we're moving away from unlimited plans?
I'd think so.