Video Calling on iPhone and iPad: By Year End?

top-logo-global-ip-solutions.240px Ok, so the iPad does not have a camera of any type. But is its form factor not a “natural” format for video calling? When Global IP Solutions put out a press release yesterday I was a bit skeptical about who would take up on their “one way Video Conferencing/Chat capabilities for iPad developers, powered by GIPS VideoEngine™ Mobile”.

We’ve heard a lot of speculation about video calling on the next generation iPhone. Global IP Solutions has been offering their GIPS Video Engine Mobile to iPhone developers for the past several months. When the iPad came along they were able to port it quite readily to the iPad as announced in the press release linked above:

GIPS VideoEngine Mobile supplies iPad developers with a simple to integrate, high-level software API that contains the complex video conferencing/video chat capabilities [that can be embedded] into applications running on Apple’s iPad operating system.

Of course without a camera of any type on the iPad a video conversation involving the iPad would have to be one way (receive) video and two-way voice. One had to wonder why would there be interest in video calling using the iPad?

GIPS.VideoOniPad Yesterday the answer came home loud and clear. I had a demonstration of a video call received on an iPad over the GIPS internal WiFi network. Having experienced lots of video on the iPhone and BlackBerry Bolds (usually You Tube) and video calling using Skype, one aspect of this experience turned me from skeptic to advocate for using iPad for video calls.

The iPad form factor is an ideal format for receiving video calls. Its medium “family” picture frame size is very familiar to consumers. Propped up in a vertical position on a coffee table or physical desktop, it would be receiving video in a format and size that is quite suitable for family participation in a video call. With the accompanying (wideband and superwideband) HD voice, it delivered a perfectly natural conversation. Overall, the iPad is a natural size for video calling.

Where will we see this? Keep in mind that Global IP Solutions delivers engines that take voice and video input and transmit it efficiently over the Internet to a final destination. Their customers, who specify and provide the end user interface to the GIPS engines, include Yahoo, Lotus/IBM, Communigate, Nimbuzz (with an iPhone app), Citrix Online and many other vendors of IP-based voice and video services. And, again from the press release:

As video access becomes available from Apple, GIPS VideoEngine will support 2-way video chat/conferencing.

Bottom line: From this demonstration, and listening to the sessions at this past week’s eComm America 2010, by year end I expect low cost and mobile video calling and conferencing services will be breaking out in a big way:

  • We’ll see mobile smartphone video calling not only on iPhone but also on Android devices, (RIM, BlackBerry?). Read through the GIPS blog to get more in-depth perspective on why I say this.
  • Where feasible with the device display screen, the video calling standard will become HD over consumer broadband connections with the launch of the HD webcams for Skype in the next month or so.
  • But the resolution standard for smartphones and tablets will actually be determined by the individual device’s screen properties; in general they will require less wireless data bandwidth than HD video calling over (cable, DSL) consumer broadband.
  • We’ll be seeing low cost multi-party video conferencing solutions from a variety of vendors bringing onsite telepresence to small business.
  • And there is reason to justify a built-in video camera on the next generation of iPad (but on the dipslay side a la MacBook Pro).

Update: San Francisco’s KRON-TV also visited Global IP Solutions last week and witnessed prototype video calls using mobile phones:

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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