Video conferencing has become very common these days as part of every day life. You have factime on Apple devices that allows you to have a video call with someone on Apple device like iPhone, iPad or iPod. Then you have Google hangouts, which has brought video conferencing capabilities on virtually all computers that have gmail accounts, which is a very low barrier to entry. Then you have Skype which is now owned by Microsoft, which was the pioneer in people to people video conferencing. And it should be noted that all three services are FREE. That is amazing considering the fact that you cannot make phone calls for free, yet you are allowed to make video calls for free if you have a data or wifi connection, which some may argue is a much more personal way to connect with other people.
Then there is a whole category of multipoint calls. Multipoint conference is where more than two people make a video call. The free version that is popular is google hangouts. Currently, apple facetime does not support more than two people being on a call. With Skype, if you want to do more than two people on a conference call, you will have to sign up for the premium version and pay for it. But who would want to pay when there are equally good free options out there? The video above from the Wall Street Journal explains what multipoint video conferencing is about. We think that colleges who have online programs, like community colleges will benefit from this a lot.
As broadband plans become competitive among wireless carriers and plans become cheaper, it is likely that we are going to see people default to video calls when they want to talk to somebody. Why go over the phone when you can actually talk to someone live and hear their voice. When it comes to video conference customer service, you get what you pay for. So, if you are using free versions like skype, facetime and google hangout, then the level of customer service cannot be expected to be that high.
In addition, we can envision a time when phone companies will make video calls default on their devices and when you start to call someone, you will have to change the default settings to voice so that you can talk to the person without seeing them. But the complaints we hear is that people don’t want to be tracked everywhere they go, so the idea that the phone will automatically be set to a video default will create a lot of anger and cause lots of customer complaints. That may also create some privacy issues since calls may be recorded by the phone companies and you never know what they may do with that kind of footage, especially if a person is doing something they don’t want anyone to know about. Also, what if this is introduced in court as evidence against the person who is making a call thinking is an innocent call only to find out that the phone company not only recorded the call but it is now in the hands of law enforcement who are going to probably use it against the owner in a court of law.