I have to admit that although I like video calls I haven't made one in quite a long time, mostly due to international video calls being prohibitively expensive and some network operators that still bar prepaid customers from receiving video calls. That severely limits my options… Anyway so for Christmas I called family and friends and some of them by now even have video call capable 3G phones. A very nice experience!
Despite many people arguing that video calling is a lost cause I still think it's a great opportunity for mobile network operators to offer a service only they can provide in a truly mobile and (almost) always-on fashion, at least for the moment. Don't get me wrong, I don't want all of my calls to be video calls but sometimes it would be very nice to get a video stream from the other side.
Unfortunately, there are still some significant hurdles to video calling even many years after the launch of 3G networks:
- 3G in-house coverage is still a big issue, especially for video calls. Femtos and UMTS on 900 MHz will help over time.
- As I said above, many network operators still limit video-calling to their post-paid subscribers. I can understand the notion of premium service and all, but after so many years I think it's time to open it up to all subscribers to create a critical mass.
- No interfaces to other video systems that are popular such as Skype
- No advertising around video-calls at all. Quite incredible and I wonder how many people are aware that they could actually make a video-call with their phone.
And while we are at it, it would also be nice to see someone implement features such as voice only at first and adding a video stream later or see-what-I-see on my phone.