Dec 302010

Skype video calling is now available for several iPhone and iPod Touch versions, just in time for New Years and then CES. The experts cover the details here. Don’t forget the journey to get here though – Jim Courtney has an excellent recap here.

However, this is just a start to a new leg of the journey, not a final destination. Areas to watch going forwards:

Mobile video interoperability, across vendors:
Ok, video calling interop doesn’t belong in sentences with mobile video calling yet…most vendors have limited interop even amongst their own videoconferencing and telepresence platforms. Skype for iPhone can’t talk to Skype for TV. Facetime won’t work for most Apple OS versions. Even outside of mobile, Cisco Umi doesn’t yet talk to enterprise Cisco telepresence. However, until we have better interoperability, video calling and telepresence won’t really take off.

Unified communications
Not the vendor view of buy all equipment and services from one vendor ; ), but the user view. Instead of communications streams that are fragmented – by type (voice, video, IM, SMS) or provider (Verizon, Skype, Twitter, Facebook) – those steams are unified and controlled by me. This is a step in that direction because now I can do a video call with Skype as the video provider, Apple iOS as the platform and AT&T as the signal provider. More on this another time, especially the video aspects since that’s my job.

Mobile video applications:
The mobile video call itself is an app. But more interesting will be apps that leverage mobile video calling as a capability. I’m thinking of apps in areas like healthcare, education and science.

Skype video usage on iPhones vs Apple’s Facetime video usage:
This will mainly be about ease of use and reach. Skype has about 10x the potential users and can be used on 3G and WiFi (Facetime, unhacked, is only for WiFi, though that will likely change soon). Facetime doesn’t need to be downloaded and has iPhone directory integration.

Android and other mobile OS video calling:
Skype will also go to Android, maybe in time for CES. Gtalk video, Google’s video, will likely be the main Android alternative. Total Android usage vs. total iPhone usage will be very interesting. Wildcard: Google or Apple could buy Skype. Wildcard2: Microsoft or Palm/HP going with standards based video calling.