New technology always goes through phases. A product or service is released with limited appeal; either due to a high cost that makes most balk or a limit in its perceived value, few adopt it. Sometimes people just don’t understand it. It’s weird …different. Then, something magical happens. Costs come down. People aren’t so scared anymore. Everyone else is doing it. It’s hip.
Video calling may soon cross that crucial line between “why?” and “why not?”
An article published at nytimes.com today discussed the growth of video telephony, pointing to Skype’s New Year’s boom and industry analysts’ reports on a marked increase of video calling as proof of a changing marketplace for the technology. To be sure Skype’s 2011 is off to an impressive start, with over 27 million users hopping on in a single day last month. In addition, the company saw over 413 billion minutes of calls made over the service for the year, with 70 billion of those minutes from video calls.
Skype also released its mobile video chat app for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad in January. An estimated 10 million people snapped it up within weeks.
But video calls from home – something more alluring than on-the-go face-to-face time – will likely be what helps the technology crack into the mainstream. After all, our TVs are slowly but surely becoming the center of our entertainment experiences. Only a few years ago, we relied on stores to stock new movies. Until the late 90s, DVR was a pipe dream. Our old game consoles played just physical media and offered nothing in regard to download-only content.
Now, all that and more is connected to one box – a TV set often too big for the room it’s in.
Video telephony is in that fertile middle ground of technological acceptance – that place where technophiles and geeks built their electronic fortresses long ago. It’s just not so isolated anymore. New folks have erected makeshift huts, and the more easy, affordable and acceptable video chatting gets, the more people that will move in.