Mobile Video Calling: A "Basic Service?"

By Jessica Binns, Contributing Editor — December 11, 2012

From Apple Facetime and Google Hangouts to Skype and Tango, mobile video calling is exploding so quickly that industry analysts don't have official stats and numbers on usage.

The quality still isn't perfect yet -- but neither is the video chat experience on a laptop or PC (pixelated, frozen video, sometimes garbled voice quality, you know the drill). But as people increasingly turn to their smartphones and tablets as their primary communication devices, the comfort level with video calls is creeping upward.

"All the communications — social messages, calls, texts and video — are merging fast," Eric Setton, co-founder and CTO of Tango Mobile, told The New York Times.

The tech titans certainly have recognized how important mobile video applications could be. Microsoft acquired Skype for $8 billion in 2011, and Yahoo purchased video chat firm OntheAir just last week.

"Video calling is becoming a basic service across different fronts," said Nikhyl Singhal, director of product management for Google's real-time communications group, told the New York Times.

But while video calls certainly can improve productivity and collaboration, especially for geographically dispersed workgroups, many video chat apps include "entertainment" features designed to boost engagement and extend call lengths. Users who add a mustache to the image of their calling recipient in Google Hangout or choose a floating design to hover on-screen with Tango end up talking longer.

Enterprises need to ensure their fixed and wireless networks are optimized to manage the rising volume of mobile video services.

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