Has Video Conferencing Killed the Voice Call?
Do you know what was the first ever music video to air on MTV when the channel first launched way back in 1981? Somehow, it was oddly appropriate for MTV to select “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles. Of course, MTV has since shifted its priorities to an entire different kind of entertainment, but the importance of video content persists. More recently, we’ve seen this kind of shift on the Internet too with the exploding popularity of services like YouTube, Hulu and Netflix. Audio alone just isn’t good enough anymore.

Interestingly, this kind of shift isn’t limited solely to entertainment either; we’re seeing it in communication too. While we haven’t quite reached the age of commercially-viable 3D holographic projections, video conferencing is playing an increasingly critical role for both personal and professional communication.

Forget About the Goldilocks Principle

We’ve all heard the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. One bowl of porridge is too hot, the second bowl is too cold, and third bowl is just right. And while this sense of finding balance applies to so many other aspects of our lives, I’m not so sure that it really applies to the world of communication anymore.

Speaking from my own perspective, I make very little use of the voice minutes on my cellphone plan. Instead, I rely a lot more on text-based communication, like SMS or e-mail. I imagine it’s much the same for a lot of newer businesses these days too, as e-mail has become the de facto form of communication. If they want to have a greater connection with their colleagues or clients, then they can step it up to video conferencing. Voice calling, as the channel that’s in between text and video, may slowly fall out of favor and maybe that’s why some hotels are giving up on landlines altogether.

Indeed, this seems to be the trend observed by the International Data Corporation (IDC). They’re projecting that mobile data will overtake mobile voice by 2017. The fact of the matter is that data, over the Internet, is so much more powerful than just regular old phone calls. Even the US government recognizes that.

That data can be used to send text-based messages and photos, as well as to power video conferencing through services like those offered by Blue Jeans Network. You get mobile collaboration for far better online meetings. And since those services are powered by the cloud, you don’t need all that powerful of a device to participate. Many of us have come to rely on our smartphones and tablets so much more than our desktop PCs and it’s great when you can participate in video conferencing from anywhere you have an Internet connection. That’s the same level of flexibility and mobility as voice calls, but with a far more robust experience. And when you need to drop a quick message, an SMS will do. The Goldilocks principle just doesn’t apply.

The Video Phone Is Alive and Well

I remember when we were told the video phone was going to be the hot new tech item. We all envisioned these homes and offices around the world, outfitted with landline telephones that happened to have a little camera and display on top of them. For better or worse, that day never really did come and we may just have the rise of the Internet to “blame” for that.


That vision of the video phone never really came to pass, but the underlying principle of the video phone is certainly alive and well today with the rise of cloud-based video conferencing over the Internet. Why just tell when you can show and tell, especially when you can have a multi-point collaboration across multiple platforms? You can have that virtual face-to-face time and get things done. It’s easier than ever, whether you’re sitting at your computer or on the road with your tablet.

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