You have to wonder what the state of the videophone would have been today if the old Ma Bell had Apple's marketing verve. Time and again, consumer videophone technology has been hailed as ready for prime time, and time and time again it has failed to gain any traction.
There are lots of reasons why the technology has failed to connect with consumers, chief among them is its inability to transcend its gizmo status and create empathy for it. Apple's latest crop of ads for FaceTime -- its seductive name for its videophone technology on its new iPhone 4 -- does just that.
Each of the new ads captures the poignancy of some simple but emotionally charged moments in life -- a new haircut, new braces, a new baby, and a new grandchild. What makes the ads so powerful is their masterful production. We're not looking at a plug for just another gee-whiz gadget, but we feel we're looking through a window into the life of another person, one in a situation that we can all identify and emote with.
The ads play the heartstrings so well that questions aren't likely to pop up like what kind of wife tells her husband they're going to have a baby over phone, or who installed grandpa's Wi-Fi network so he could use a state-of-the-art phone? Nevertheless, if past video phone makers knew how to connect like these Apple ads do, video phones would be in the mainstream now and not in some telco backwater.