Video conferencing was a lot more interesting to watch in 2011 than was VoIP. It wasn't that nothing happened in VoIP during the year. It was just that a lot more happened in video conferencing. This was especially true in the SMB space. Early summer saw a slew of significant announcements from vendors and providers. These announcements figured prominently in the VoIP Evolution report "SMB Video Conferencing: Getting Beyond Clouds & Interoperability."
One of the great attractions of IP-based voice and video communication is their capacity for integration with other applications and services. Such integration becomes even more compelling when it involves social networks, which represent the hottest tech trend going. So it was no surprise when the winner of the recent StartupCamp Comms Edition was a company that had created a platform for integrating voice, video and chat with Facebook, as a tool to help students study better together.
By now we know a lot of details about why HD voice calls are better than conventional phone calls. We've heard how the PSTN cuts off much of the audio range human conversation usually employs, making it hard to distinguish between fricatives such as s and f, and to understand people with different accents. We know that straining to fill in the words and phrases we can't understand produces listener fatigue and makes conference calls an ordeal.
All this information is evidence that the HD voice promoters have done a good job of getting the word out about their favored technology. But we don't have the same kind of information about why video calling is better than voice calling. The general assumption seems to be that everyone understands the benefit of video communication intuitively. In reality, understanding is limited, because detailed information is in short supply.
One of the greatest benefits of IP phone technology is that it permits alternative methods of initiating voice connections. Click-to-call, for example, lets users launch phone calls from within Web applications, rather than having to pick up a phone, find the right number and then dial. A more complex example is seamless escalation – say, letting the user move from instant messaging to voice call, or from voice call to video chat for that matter, within the same application – with a click or key press or two. A new beta service from JAJAH brings a similar capability to Twitter users.