Video Calling Is Finally Catching On

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Do you use Skype for video calls? How about FaceTime? It is still a novelty right now, but a new report from NPD In-Stat suggests that video calling will explode over the next four years to become more mainstream--a trend that will benefit businesses by saving money and increasing productivity.

Based on the television I watched as a kid, I expected that we would all be using video calling by default by now. Star Trek, the Jetsons, and many other shows painted a picture of a future where you just start talking to someone, and they magically appear on the screen to join the conversation. Audio-only conversations are so “1999”.

Skype and Google+ Hangouts are bringing video chat to the mainstream.
Well, along with flying cars, robot maids, warp-speed space travel, and beaming people from one place to another, the video calling depicted on cartoons and science fiction still inexplicably eludes us. Although, from that list it seems that video calling is the most attainable, and probably the first “futuristic” thing that will become a societal norm.

The NPD In-Stat report, titled “Video Calling Across Screen Types: PC, Mobile, and Living Room,” predicts based on current trends that the number of people using video calling on a regular basis will grow from 63 million in 2010 to more than 380 million by 2015. Driven by services such as Skype on PCs, FaceTime on iOS mobile devices, and Microsoft’s Kinect in the living room, more and more people are connecting face-to-face rather than just ear-to-ear.

There are benefits to video calling for just about anybody. As a father, I would much rather see my wife and children when I call at night while traveling than just hearing their voices on the phone. Video calling spans miles and lets family and friends actually see each other instead of just talking to each other. Of course, if you just got out of the shower, or you’re driving 70 miles per hour down the highway, video calling is probably not an awesome idea.

Video conferencing has existed as a business tool for years. But, the mainstream adoption of video calling is being driven by consumer tools and services like those mentioned above--Skype, FaceTime, Kinect--and more, such as Google+ Hangouts. As video calling seeps into everyday living, businesses of all sizes will realize the advantages and embrace it as well.

Business travel is costly and time consuming. It involves airfare, rental cars, hotels, and meals. It puts a strain on marriages, and families. It eats up time just getting from Point A to Point B that could otherwise be put to productive use. As cool as video calling is becoming for consumers, for businesses it represents a significant tool for reducing costs, and improving productivity.

We’re still at least a few years away from video calling being truly mainstream, and many more years than that away from video calling surpassing audio calling as the default method of communication. But, businesses can start using the tools available now with Skype, video chats through social networking services like Facebook and Google+, and FaceTime video chat to shrink the world, conduct “face-to-face” meetings around the world in minutes, and increase the bottom line.

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