A lot of people have gotten excited by the release of video conferencing on the iPhone 4 with Facetime and Skype. Having used them, I have to say it is a lot of fun.
The excitement has led a lot of video conferencing professionals and prospective clients to ask if VeaMea or other business-class video conferencing and collaboration software runs on Android, or iOS. The short answer is no, not yet. The longer answer requires thinking about what makes sense given today's technology.
What makes Sense on Smart Phones
A one to one call on a smart phone is no doubt a useful feature, but is a small piece of the value of enterprise video conferencing platforms. Some features transfer easily, for example allowing people to be logged in so their presence/status is viewable by colleagues, and engaging in text chat or voice interaction are an obvious place to start. Smartphones can also be brought into a traditional video conference as audio only participants through a SIP Gateway. But what about true multi-point video conferencing ?
Multi-point video conferencing on Smartphones
Should video conferencing vendors develop one to one, "good enough video" applications for smart phones, or remain true to their high quality video roots and stay off these platforms until the platforms are ready to support this level of interaction?
Imagine the image from an iPhone camera projected onto your 60" Polycom OTX HD display. Not a pretty picture I am willing to bet. Or imagine the background noise from your car, airport, internet cafe, etc. being sent back to your colleagues in the board room at headquarters.
Further, if you have a five person call, do you really want to see 5 x 1/2 inch images of your colleagues on your smartphone? If someone wants to share a presentation, spreadsheet or other content, is a 3.5 inch screen really a useful way to view it ?
Finally, does your smart phone have the bandwidth and processing power to handle a multi-party video conference or collaboration session without being overwhelmed ?
The trends are moving in the right directions: more power and bandwidth are available with each new release. The day will come fairly quickly when the smartphone will be able to be a video conferencing endpoint. The lingering question is: do you want it to be?
Tablet Video Conferencing and Collaboration
Tablets like the iPad, Samsung Galaxy and Motorola XOOM offer most of the same challenges in terms of processing power, but cameras on each side are becoming standard and the screen size is improved relative to what a smartphone provides. We see tablets being a much more likely entrypoint into multi-point video conferencing and collaboration.
What do you think the role of smartphones and tablets should be in enterprise video conferencing and collaboration ? Comments Welcome...