How Will Video Chat Change Society?

In Star Trek, away teams don't exactly communicate with one another or their starships through vid chat. It has almost always been through a video-less communicators or other communication devices. And in our "reality", there have always been devices with video conference abilities. But the idea of chatting via video has always been plagued by a multitude of hurdles.

Apple's iPhone 4 isn't the first mobile device with to have a frontal camera for video communications but it is the first to overcome the hurdles I mentioned: quality of the video chat, lack of market saturation in the market, ease of use, and other technical and, likely, social obstacles.

We don't know if Apple's iPhone 4 will usher in a new paradigm in social communication through video but we should begin to talk about it now.

Apple posted a video of a father way from his family but being able to view his baby live from his hotel room. Staying in touch. That is going to be the key for video chat, not just Apple's FaceTime to be accepted as a viable mean for communication. Is society ready for this? Is it even necessary?

Imagine being able to examine a factory in China live using an iPhone 4 or another mobile device by the company's executives in the United States. Also consider the ability for a team of reporters to offer live broadcast of a breaking news event.

As good as the above scenarios look, this is going to take time. Right now, Skype is the dominant player in the VOIP market for consumers. Just last night, we conducted an hour long video chat with families overseas. However, Skype uses a closed and proprietary system to make that happen. Apple has open-sourced FaceTime but it remains to be seen if it will be adopted by others. Having either Microsoft or Google, two of its main competitors, accept this will go a long way in making that happen. And yes, MSN Messenger allows video chats as does Google Talk over the Web.

Also, FaceTime isn't available over 3G or other cellular wireless networks at this time and only works over Wi-Fi. Steve Jobs promised this ability next year. Nevertheless, it is a setback for Apple and video chat in general, not being able to over FaceTime calls over cellular data.

Thus, compatibility will be a key issue as is accessibility.

Still, this is very exciting for mobile users. I am waiting for a white iPhone 4 and when I get it, I look forward to trying it out.

-- Post From My iPad

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