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Mobile Video: not a Big Thing yet

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Last week I wrote Mobile Video: the next Big Thing? to reflect on some of the positive things that we'll be able to do with video enabled mobile phones. I began that article with a bit of a disclaimer:
Opinions differ on the usefulness of having the ability to see a high-quality live video of the person you're talking to on your mobile phone. While I doubt that everyone in the future will always opt to make video calls, I am convinced that it will be used in certain situations, and that it will be a Big Thing.
The thing is, not everyone is so anxious to have video calling ability all the time. The VoIP Girl and PhoneBoy have both weighed in with some things that people have to consider when they fire up their webcams. The people I talk to have similar concerns.

When PhoneBoy mentions camera shyness, I'm reminded of all those who aren't comfortable with their image unless they've just shaven, or done their hair, or put on makeup, or gotten dressed. A phone call is an unexpected event and not many people want to be seen unprepared.

The VoIP Girl says that people want to multi-task while they're on the phone, and being on camera would stop them from doing other things. This also corresponds to feedback I've heard. They're not interested in chatting online. Their phone calls are usually to arrange meetings where they'll see each other anyway.

Going back to the disclaimer at the beginning, "not everyone will always opt to make video calls" and "it will be used in certain situations". That still holds true, and even my skeptical friends admit that there are times when this ability will come in handy, many of which are described in last week's post. Maybe this will change once availability increases. I still have a feeling that when the barriers have been lowered, it will be a Big Thing.


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