Let's set the record straight, for in 2010 we will begin to see some clear lines (are they battle lines) drawn when it comes to "face to face" communications over the Internet.
A post yesterday about Google's Video Chat got me thinking, and as someone who is very much into both branding and operation definitions, the time has come to really expand upon the approach I first took when SightSpeed was my agency's client (right up and through their acquisition by Logitech.)
When we were advising SightSpeed one of the core points we always set out to make was the fact that the offered "video conferencing." That meant they were delivering the highest quality available (media always recognized this in reviews) and were into delivering an all software based multi-party experience. Former CEO Peter Csathy would go to great lengths to extoll the nature of their video quality, tossing words like "pristine" around the way I open wine bottles (with great frequency and regularity), and to date, the only company to really match the level of SightSpeed's "pristine" on screen look is Skype.
Now, let's go into the lesson:
Cisco coined the term Telepresence because it wanted to separate the perception of what was poor video conferencing from the rest of the pack. That was a branding technique to own the space. Quickly others followed suit (HP with Halo, Vidyo, Tandberg, Lifesize) with their own versions of "telepresence." But let's not get confused. These are video conferencing solutions while services like TokBox, Yahoo Messenger with Video and others of their ilk are really video chat as their experience is not on par with any of the real "video conferencing" solutions. So, while many of the Flash video based services like to say they offer Video Conferencing, about the only thing they have in common is "video." And that's where Google's offering is TODAY. They use a combination of video from Vidyo and audio from client Global IP Solutions (GIPS)
Now, let's look at 2010. Video communications in the home and the office will be very different in the next decade. First I fully expect that we'll see embedded webcams in widescreen TV's by the end of the new year. Before that I fully expect that we'll see webcams that interoperate with these widescreen television monitors and I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of the major video chat/conferencing companies starts to work with one or more of the major electronic giants.
Looking a little farther down the road, I'd also expect that the likes of SightSpeed, Skype and others will interoperate with the room based systems very shortly. It's too logical. When you think of the millions of end points that both Skype and SightSpeed already have (not to mention ooVoo) you have to quickly see the roadmaps that Cisco (acquiring Tandberg) and Logitech (acquiring LifeSize) are on. Only someone who can't see would miss the obvious. The lines between video chat and video conferencing are starting to be drawn and the markets identified.
If the last ten years was the decade of the growth of Voice over IP, the next one will be for Video over IP...and now you know why I named this blog VoIPWatch.