Does Video Telephony Require a Killer Application?

Last week I had an interesting conversation with a colleague of mine at work. It was around the chances of success for point-to-point video telephony.

Point-to-point video telephony means two people talking to each other using a video call. This is sometimes referred to as "talking heads", as what you usually see is a head talking.

As an application, "talking heads" hasn't proven itself useful enough. At least if you count mobile video telephony as the main application.

The reason usually cited for this flop is that people want to talk, and for them exchanging voices is enough. Adding video to the equation only confuses them and defocuses them.

I beg to differ.

Today even my mom uses video chatting through Skype to talk to her friends

In my office, Cisco VT Advantage is installed on all machines, so whenever I call someone at RADVISION, I automatically use a video call. It is a bit funny when you're talking to a person sitting a room away down the corridor, but when I call our Japan office, being able to see who I speak to adds some depth to the call that is otherwise unavailable.

People communicate. Before the phone, they used to talk face to face (think "talking heads", only from a short distance). We have meetings and we fly to meet people to negotiate deals. The added value of seeing who you talk to is precious.

So do we really need some killer application for video telephony or can the "talking heads" one be the application we're searching for? Is it only a matter of better processing power and more bandwidth or is it time to think of other use cases?

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