Video Calling Going Mobile?


Summary:  Should VSee bet on Android while Apple is still going strong?  Either way, figures support the trend towards video calling and videoconferencing from mobile devices.

The other day, a good friend of VSee advised us to ditch our Mac OS and even iOS efforts and to go for the Android market.  I’m not sure that I agree.  Although Android is growing by leaps and bounds, the numbers I found show that Apple still has a very happy lead.  Consider the case of Instagram, a mobile photo-sharing app which is only available on iOS, yet now has 5 million users only 4 months after it’s initial launch!  GigaOm writer Ryan Kim also has some doubts about Android’s potential to take over in this area.

What I do agree with is the takeover of the mobile market.  Regardless of whether it’s Apple, Android, Palm, or RIM,  mobile is in and PCs/laptops are going out.  At Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference early in June this year, CEO Paul Jacobs pointed out:

  • 1.3 billion 3G connections worldwide with 2 billion more connections by 2015
  • mobile data use will increase 10 to 12 times over the next four years
  • hundreds of networks are offering mobile broadband
  • 200 of the latest LTE networks are in the works, 20 of which have already launched
  • Google Maps usage on mobile is far greater than its usage on the desktop.

For VSee it means knowing that video calling is moving over to mobile.  According to a survey conducted last August through September by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Project,  6% of all American adults have used their cell phones for a video call or video conference.  Another survey conducted by marketing consultant iGR at approximately the same time last year reported even higher numbers with 13% of those surveyed owning smart phones and using them for some kind of video calling.

Pew Research Center also found that video calling in general had increased since their last survey in April 2009.  On any given day the percentage of people in a video call was 4%, up from 2%.  Both surveys had similar numbers of 23 and 24% for the people who had ever participated in a video call (which means still plenty of room for growth :))

What’s really interesting is that the iGR survey also found that 71% think that a smart phone is one of the best devices for video communications with 57% have some kind of interest in being able to video call from something other than a PC. So what’s holding people back?   Lack of equipment or just camera-shy?

iGR found that 38% of those surveyed did not have a video camera for whatever device they were using.  Another problem might be the availability of cross-platform applications.  Even though people might want to go mobile, most video calls are still done via PC, and a review of Facebook’s Skype integration notes “Currently, the limitation with third-party video chat apps like Fring, Qik, and Tango, is that most of them don’t work with PC’s and Mac users, though they’re cross-platform when it comes to mobile.”

Btw, if you’re too impatient to wait for the future VSeeMobile :),  Tango, Qik, and Facetime are some great video calling tools available for your mobile device now.

Now getting back to my original inspiration what would you bet on?  Apple or Android?  PC, Smartphone or tablet?


Somewhat Related Articles

Google stabilizes video For walking and talking while on mobile video chat

Tips on video chatting mobile

Infographic of mobile OS shares


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photo courtesy: n93ilandscape2


Comments ( 14 )
  • anne
    Rich Griffin says:

    I certainly agree that VSee should have a VSeeMobile app sooner rather than later. I don’t really think VSee should abandon development of a Mac OSX or iOS client, I just believe that capturing the hearts, minds and dollars of more potential VSee users will happen more quickly with an Android client than with Mac OSX and iOS clients. The speed of client acquisition with development of one additional platform (Android) will exceed those new VSee clients acquired with the internal costs of developing for two discreet platforms (Mac OSX and iOS). The additional revenue gained by offering an Android client now will support development of the iOS client and Mac OSX clients. (In fact, that would be the order I would follow: Android, iOS then Mac OSX based on market penetration of those devices.)

    Cost of development for Android is lower, especially considering that Apple still obscures direct access to the front-facing camera (perhaps to maintain the “lead” they have with FaceTime.) There are more Java programmers than Objective-C developers by far. So. Cheaper and faster development time for a growing platform market allows for time and money to address iOS and Mac OSX which represent lesser penetration margins respectively.

    The biggest win is in VSee’s development in the mobile market. Heck, I just dumped my iPhone 4 for a Thunderbolt – but I’ll go back to an iPhone if VSee is available there first 🙂

  • anne
    anne says:

    Thanks, for your staunch support of VSee Rich! No offense if I’ve waylaid any your comments 🙂
    Btw, do you have any thoughts on other mobile video chat apps?

  • anne
    Rich Griffin says:

    No offense taken! I think I’ve used just about every mobile video chat with the exception of: Paltalk, Camfrog, OctroTalk, iVisit Mobile and MS, Portrait.

    In no particular order:

    Yahoo Messenger for iPhone: *VERY* macroblocky video, well below 10fps, narrowband audio – no discernible lip-sync

    FaceTime: very good video motion smoothness and quality and good audio, excellent lip-sync – when good WiFi is availble. I had a jailbreak app that allowed use on 3G on which, quality dropped below that of Tango

    Tango: Decent video motion, mediocre video quality , narrowband audio, decent lip-sync (I had choppy audio everytime I used it though.)

    ooVoo: Very good video motion and sharpness, decent audio, very good lip-sync. The Android version has authentication issues (If on wifi I have to jump to 4G to authenticate, then back to WiFi. It actually works better on Verizon’s LTE than WiFi so that’s less an issue.)

    Skype 3 for iPhone: Video quality just beneath ooVoo, the best audio quality (SILK). No front-camera yet for the HTC Thunderbolt so no info yet.

    Qik: video quality just slightly better than Yahoo Mobile’s

    Fring: offers multiple video but I never got it to work. One-to-One video was bad enough and stability was horrible

    vTok for iPhone: Oddly poor when compared to the overall quality I used to see with Google Video chat (one-to-one, not the latest iteration as Hangouts) Very choppy on the iPhone although sharp video. vTok doesn’t recognize the front-facing camera on the Thunderbolt yet and I’ve yet to mod up to Android 2.3.4 for native Google Video Chat, but I’m not confident that it would be as good as ooVoo or Tango.

    Thus far ooVoo Mobile for both iPhone and Android has provided the most pleasing user experience.

  • anne
    anne says:

    This is awesome! Talk about beyond expectations 🙂

  • anne
    Rich Griffin says:

    Wow. Major revision to my earlier assessment of ooVoo Mobile vs. Tango. The latest update to Tango pushes it to the lead in video quality, smoothness, etc. Major increase in quality.

  • anne
    Raymond Kwok says:

    Hi Rich and Anne
    It seems only a few of us are bloging in Vsee on this important topic?
    I am not a techs just an end user but a betting man.
    I will lay bet on all mobile platforms but will go for iOS and Mac OSX then Andriod even I am using HTC/Andriod but all my family are using iPhone.
    If we can get W7 mobile to works with Vsee which is what Milton is testing then we can push hand-phones with W7;)
    Do not forget getting Vsee working on iPad2

  • anne
    anne says:

    My friend and her sister talk with each other all the time using Facetime on their iPads, and they love it.

  • anne
    Raymond Kwok says:

    VSee needs to move into the mobile and tablet space fast
    Mobile is the future but tablets like iPad are still the work horses
    dockable tablets and mobiles are the future.

  • anne
    Darren says:

    Android’s Dirty Secret:

    I am one of the returns. After 18 months with my Droid, I finally switched to the iPhone because I need usability. Having to wait minutes for my phone to respond to my commands is not usable. And the same thing is happening to most people I know with Android phones. Love the Android idea but it’s just not working with the Windows OS business model.

  • anne
    Rich Griffin says:

    I have another update to the mobile video chat list. I had stated before that Fring was not worth trying. I’m changing that in lieu of their latest update (for Android that is). The last 3 calls I made to an iPad 2 on Wifi (I was on LTE) were even better than Tango on the same machines/networks. It seems to indicate a lot of effort in this market.

    Darren, you’re right on the return of Android devices. I am not in love with my Thunderbolt and knew I’d be leaving behind a lot of UI goodness going from the iPhone 4 to Android. However, unless Apple really surprises us by adding LTE to the iPhone 5 in September (which I doubt), I can live with the far clunkier UI of Android. I’ve not experienced any delays in phone commands, but it isn’t nearly as well designed and implemented as Apple. I’ll be playing around with a few different ROMs so maybe I’ll find one that makes more sense to me. I really wanted LTE and was willing to compromise to get it. But that’s just me.

  • anne
    Rachel says:

    While I don’t think the topic of this post is directly related to which phone is better iphone or Android, I think it is important to address that they are the two most common operating platforms and should be supported.

    Please add vsee for Android and iphone so that no one has to choose or be excluded! The Android market is not that hard to get into, unlike the Apple market where everything goes through a strict approval process. I think with proper marketing, it would be really useful.

    @Darren, I wonder if the problems you were experiencing in terms of stability and responsiveness have less to do with the operating system and more to do with the hardware. I recently experienced the same thing using an two year old myTouch (HTC) with Android and it was basically to the point that even getting the phone app to respond was causing serious delays. In researching the hardware at the time that I recently upgraded phones to the Evo 4G, I found that the old phone had internal memory of 192 MB RAM/512 MB ROM while the new phone has 512MB RAM/1GB ROM. The performance has been INCREDIBLE. This new model just zips right to whatever I’m using, including the larger apps.

    While the UI for the iPhone is really simple and clean, I find that I really don’t have any problems with using my Android and I know lots of non-techie people who just LOVE their Droid!!!

  • anne
    Paul says:

    Living in Hong Kong and using an Android in one of Apple’s largest and growing markets I am faced with needing to know why I’m choosing one platform over another. The two platforms use two quite different approaches to design, they both have advantages and disadvantages. Android is customisable (and at times does my head in!) and fast to market with the Samsung alliance; Apple is innovative/stylish, easy to learn and use (and yet won’t meet all consumer needs and styles of use).
    I believe they will both survive and continue to drive innovation.

  • anne
    Rachel Sara says:

    There is a mess of VoIPs now a days. Do you think there are many VoIPs featuring mobile video chat with the number of group participants? I don’t think so, they are all different in functionalities. So far, skype and oovoo was good, google hangout is better. But now i switched to FriendCaller as they launched Group Video Chat for 7 callers at a time.

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