Comcast Believes, This Time, That Customers Want Video Calling

from the history-repeating dept

What is it about video calling that makes so many people think it's bound to be the next big thing? The technology for talking with video has been around for a long time, and there's no indication that people want it. In fact, there have been several attempts at marketing the service, none of which have succeeded. Yet, in spite of these failures, video calling still holds allure for some telecom companies, who every few years trot out the latest iteration of it, convinced that people will want it this time. Apparently, Comcast is looking to be the next major company to try its hand at a such a venture, with a launch in 2007. It wants to offer free video calling (at least it doesn't think it will be able to charge for the service) over customers' PC. The company will also store people's calls on their servers, which it thinks will discourage people from switching. Get this, apparently the company, or people close to it, believe it will be their "Skype killer". Perhaps they should try using Skype, just so they know what it is, before saying that this will kill it. It's all rumor at this point, but if the company is hoping for big things out of video calling, it will likely be very disappointed.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    aReader(), Sep 13th, 2006 @ 12:32pm


    What? Are you telling me that I can see the face of Raj from India who is pitching a Dish Network deal?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    SPR, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 1:15pm

    Video calling,,, Why?

    I can't imagine anyone wanting to use video calling. I had video set on IM for a while and found it to be a total waste of bandwidth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Why not?, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 1:23pm

    Video Calling...

    Its the next logical step, isn't it? Video killed the radio star......

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Philip, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 1:27pm

    Not that it's not wanted..

    It's that nobody's ever been able to get a perfect implementation. One of the biggest things that drives me away from video calling is the inability to have perfect synchronized video and audio. If I'm walking to somebody on a video phone, that's sweet. But if their lips aren't matching the audio, then I'm weirded out. It just bothers me when video isn't perfect.

    Until you can have perfect streaming video+audio, video phones just won't be the next thing. Of course, another benefit to phones is the freedom to move around cordless. How will Comcast fill this benefit? Or will be, once again, be stuck on a corded phone (ie; computer head set)?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 1:29pm

    well, this service would have to be free... considering there are already plenty of free services for video chatting if you have a webcam...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Ron (profile), Sep 13th, 2006 @ 1:31pm

    But ...

    ... it was such a cool thing on Star Trek, and The Jetsons, and Batman, and even Dick Tracy had a video call thing in his wrist watch. How could it NOT work?
    Actually, has anyone ever done a study of WHY no one seems to want this? On the outside it seems like a good idea (except maybe you'll see what the person looks like at 3a when you wake up the programmer on call or catch the boyfriend sneaking around in the background of the video). But, except for the embarassing bits, what's the real reason that no one wants this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Daniel Barbalace, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 1:44pm

    Next logical step

    If videophones ever took off, the next killer app would be to replace the "real" image of a caller with an attractive model mouthing the same words. Then when "Raj" calls you with a fake Texan accent to sell you a Dish Network deal, you'll see an image of someone who looks like Tim McGraw.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Faz, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 1:46pm


    A) i hate comcast
    B) i am moving away from calling people to SMS, so i do not have to make small talk when it is not needed.
    C) i do not want folks to see my apartment when it is not presentable or to see me lay on me sofa in my PJs talking to them or
    for them to see me packing my suitcase while tlaking.. anythign.. point is phone has to be mobile.... not sitting in one place seeing the face.... for that we have video chats and all

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    StangFlyer, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 1:59pm


    Don't be to hard on Video calling. While I don't think it is destine to become the next big thing yet, I think it will eventually take off in some fashion. There have been many technologies throughout modern history that became big quite some time after they were actually invented or envisioned. Sometimes social and cultural conditions, as well as other factors, can greatly effect when something "takes off". One days fad becomes another days useful thing. Personally, I think video calling in the home, beyond nitch uses, may never become a big thing. However, what will probably take off eventually is video calling on cell phones and other portable devices. Many cell phones are already getting crude to moderate level video cameras in them. When they improve, and data networks like EVDO continue to grow, video calling capabilities may become a reality... we'll see.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Chris, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 2:02pm

    Video calling and video conferencing is somewhat useable if you have a fast network. By that I mean the end-to-end delay is less then 100ms and preferably under 50ms. Anything higher and the video because out of sync and tends to actually hinder communication. You need somewhere between 500-768kb/s of bandwidth and fast computers to get good quality video.

    The network isn't ready yet. Comcast has lots of bandwidth but their network seems to have lots of jitter, and latency.

    Of course if they do get it work, and work well it will probably replace webcam sites, not skype.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Grandfather Time, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Video calling,,, Why?

    Let's see, if you were hearing impaired you would know why, or deaf....I am assuming that you are not. For, if you were, you would hate the hassles of having to use Sprint Relay or any other service that entails the process of connecting to a third party to relay your call for you....and yes, this person sees every word typed and hears every word spoken...which is invasive, yet, the technology for this has been around so long now, and not until a few years ago did deaf or hard of hearing people use it as a means to communicate without having that obtrusive third party hearing (or seeing) every little detal of their conversation...... This is why someone would want to use it....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 3:02pm

    Re: Re: Video calling,,, Why?

    niche market, need already fulfilled. comcast is not a niche product producer...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    lil'bit, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 6:20pm

    Third grade, 1968

    Items we were led to believe would be common place when adults: videophones and metric system. Actually, from 3rd until 5th grade we were told we had to learn the metric system because the US would switch in 10 years. Never could understand why they made it so difficult - metric is way easier than current US system. Problems stemmed from converting between US and metric - if everything switched over to metric, why would one need to convert?
    Anyway, I think the constant push for video phones IS because the babyboomers were brainwashed to think we would have it by now AND it was so cool in the cartoons!!

    And it fails because it won't ever be as good as we were told, as others mentioned already

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    obilesk, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 7:33pm


    does anyone really want to see me pick my nose while im talkin to them? i dont even like "chatting" on a phone, much less the idea of being watched while i do it. in business or in a military setting i could see the usefulness, but not for consumers..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Sohrab, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 7:49pm

    I think video calling will take off once lets say Cell Phones, their camera could also be used as a video camera. Then, you can see who you are talking with. I think that would indeed be an awesome feature

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Annonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2006 @ 9:39am

    New Technology is driving down cost

    With new technologies and platforms springing up, as well as an all IP approach, these services will be capable and available, whether used or not. This is not like the old video conferencing that was such a pain before. We have dynamic systems that can used with whatever protocols/codecs the user endpoints can support and with added quality of service. The idea of "hey, how you doing... you are missing a great party, game, etc." Cell phones will have this capability within the next 6 -18 months. The neat thing is that you can have the voice delivered over the existing wireless infrastructure and the video can run in parallel, let's say, over EVDO or UMTS with synchronization. Now if people can just figure out how to take the video without their phones being upside down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.