Monday, December 13, 2010
Fans of sci-fi have long been familiar with the promise of video chat. All of the best sci-fi shows have for decades been showing us video-phone calls between cast members. It looked like the wave of the future, a great day when we would be able to have a real, face-face conversation with someone at a distance.
Yet, this technology has now been around for years. Skype and other platforms are not new. Anyone with high speed internet and a web cam have been able to have these face to face conversations for some time now. But, this technology has not caught on in a big way. I know of almost no one who really wants to have a video chat with anyone on a regular basis. I have used Skype just a few times, never for a real conversation. I have had one Skype interview for a school. I have Skyped a few people just to see how it worked. My most ingenious use of Skype was to broadcast a Baylor basketball game to a friend living overseas.
I just don't think the technology is really going to catch on, and the reason is that it does not fulfill a need, at least not for most phone conversations. Most people, when they make a phone call have no real desire to be "face to face." In fact, they would rather not. People like to multitask while on the phone. They like to have the conversation, but they don't want the other person seeing what they are doing. They might be walking around the house straightening up. They might be at their desk shuffling papers, clicking websites, jotting down notes, etc. They might be driving. All things that cannot be done in a face to face conversation. As the scene from Fringe made clear, when engaging in video chat, one stops all action and sits in front of a screen. We have gotten used to having phone conversations while doing other stuff, and I think most phone conversations w/video would actually hinder the phone lifestyle we have become accustomed to.
So, is the capability of video chat going to be a purchasing factor on my next phone? No Way, i'll take the audio-talk only function please. What about you? Do you see yourself engaging in video chat on a regular basis now that it has come to mobile devices?