Andy points the way

May 15, 2008
By

Andy offers some ideas for what’s next in communications in a very thoughtful post. Unfortunately some of the responses have been a little less thoughtful, to the point of being downright acerbic – which is to be expected, I suppose.

Andy takes two bits of news from the past week: rumors (theories really) of the telcos putting together a Skype competitor and the WiMax consortium news, and suggests that an interesting resulting play could be video.

Instead of simply being another voice play to battle Skype or the mobile operators, the WiMax companies and the cable operators, and heck, even Ma Telco may all may find that they may be better off looking in another direction.

That direction is real-time video communications bundled up along with other IP related services like voice and text, all in one neat little package.

It’s an interesting idea. Like most ideas, it is being discarded out of hand by many. Oh well. A lot of trash talk.

Frankly, I’m not a fan of video as it has been attempted over the years (going back many many years). I’ve done a lot of research with video and all that research took me to a place I did not expect to go regarding video – in the end, I’ve come to believe that video as we have ever seen it used, such as in “talking heads” applications, conferencing, and such, has essentially zero utility. That doesn’t mean Andy is wrong. I could be way wrong and Andy doesn’t necessarily suggest just “talking heads” video anyway.

I will put out a couple of teasers about why “talking heads” video , while very flashy and appealing at first glance, in reality has a tough row to hoe:

  1. real people are not attractive – we are not movie stars or models. people on TV are not normal. we are not used to seeing normal people on “TV” (in the form of real-time video).
  2. we are not directors. we do not know how to properly produce video content, how to light it, frame it etc.
  3. we use IM for a reason. sometimes we don’t want the intimacy of a phone call. it follows that we really don’t want the intimacy of video – this is particularly true for females (based on research data)
  4. video technology makes people seem stupid when the audio is out of sync or when the video does not meet our TV-like expectations (again, see the research)

The list goes on. The funny thing about this is the research has been here for years. But despite all the available data, as well as the extremely low market acceptance of video, we continue to see vendors offer nothing but “bigger and better” “talking heads” solutions.

On the other hand, video is very interesting when used more as a sensor… but we will leave that for another day.

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