Technology

Is video chat ready to cross the chasm?

Author
Joel Burslem
No.
611
Date
07/07/11

“First there is a market Then there is no market Then there is.”

– Geoffrey Moore, Crossing the Chasm

Earlier last week I got an invite to Google+ (thanks +mikerohrig), Google’s big new social initiative. The budding social network shows a lot of promise, but suffers a bit right now from a lack of any real interesting activity.

Save for a few tech bigwigs and a smattering of other lucky geeks, not much is happening behind the velvet rope. This will all surely change once the door is thrown open to everyone.

The killer feature is Google Hangouts, a 10-person group video chat environment where you can literally just “hangout” and talk in real time with your buddies.

Not to be left behind, Facebook launched integrated video chat on its site yesterday, through a new technical partnership with Skype.

It definitely looks like the video chat is is ready to tip.

A vision of yesterday

Bell Labs built the world’s first video phone in 1956 and called it Picturephone, it was a highlight of the 1964 World’s Fair. AT&T tried to commercialize the technology but eventually ended up folding the service after a run of about five or six years. The market just wasn’t ready.

Fast forward to this century and to date the technology has been largely confined to select groups (the deaf community is a huge adopter of video chat, for example) and small businesses. Here at 1000watt, we have been using video in iChat to communicate with each other, with clients and with our partners for some time now.

But the mass market? Hasn’t quite materialized.

In his 1999 book, Crossing the Chasm, author Geoffrey Moore absorbed the classic technology adoption lifecycle model and proposed a gap between the first two groups in Rogers’ bell curve – the innovators and early adopters – this was the so-called “chasm” where many technology products failed.

I think this push by Google+ and Facebook will likely propel video chat, Evel Kneivel-like, over that chasm.

Video chat comes to real estate

“The app also shows me that Barbara (my Realtor) is online right now. I see from her status she’s at Starbucks catching up on email. The Facetime indicator next to her avatar means she’s willing to video chat. I speak more clearly this time. “Call Barbara.” She accepts my call and her smiling face pops up on my TV.”

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I think this reality is not too far off. In my post, I thought it might be 2013. I realize now I may have been too conservative.

I’m bullish on video chat for a lot of reasons, but by this point, those thoughts are probably best served up in another post.

In the meantime, are you ready? It sure feels like the market is.