Zoom just took the first step to create the video calling switchboard. This may not seem like a big deal, but it really is because right now, video calling and video conferencing, like encrypted communications, is a dystopia of balkanized efforts, where each provider does things their own way, and for users it means having multiple services to subscribe to and use.
Not only is this unwieldy from a cost control standpoint, it is downright confusing. It's as confusing as the days of ICQ and AOL Messenger being owned and operated by AOL but not being interconnected. Now, so many years later, we still have division by user base, but like so many things I'm polyamorous about, the number of services and apps I need to have to stay in touch is mind boggling. When I compare this to before say 2000, when I had maybe three phone numbers-home, office and cell phone to be found, plus a private 800 number so my mother could call me cross country for free, even then I had Webley and AT&T’s Reach Me , both of which made ringing all the devices at the same time using the earliest of Find Me/Follow Me technology, so easy. These services, all aimed at making us reachable via one number services, as they reduced complexity, they didn’t add to it.
That’s why what ZOOM's new effort and what they are doing today, connecting to Facebook’s Portal, Google Nest with video and Amazon Echo Show 8 is so important. They are getting connected to where the people are, not to where they have been. This “federation” of sorts is very similar to what Michael Robertson and Jeff Bonforte did with the earliest days of Gizmo Project, and what Jeff Pulver and Carl Ford first did with Free World DialUp, long before they idea was taken by the Skype founding team and given an injection of steroids with JOLTID for secure communications, something Skype sure isn’t today.
But today, now with WebRTC and the cloud making it easy for new voice, messaging and video services to spring up, the need for the modern era switchboard for video calling and conferencing, that offers security, privacy and control, and can rest in the hands of the user using a permission based approach, is upon us.
A lot more work still needs to be done, but Zoom’s first step is a big one, and a bold move, especially as they move more and more into telephony with Zoom phone and expand that footprint worldwide. By moving video calling in the direction they are going, and adding phone service, it won’t be long before you can call someone more easily, and have that call end up on the Nest, Portal or Show, just like calls that used to go to your home phone, just like the Jetsons’ cartoons of the past foreshadowed.