The idea of video phone calls goes back to at least 1969 when AT&T developed it’s famous Picturephone which went nowhere (the concept was actually been kicking around a lot earlier). But now with Skype video calls on your laptop and FaceTime on your iPhone, video calls are finally gaining acceptance. A new Pew Internet survey finds that 19 percent of American adults have made some sort of video call, either on their laptops or their cell phones. If you look at just the population on the Internet, it is 23 percent.
But what about video calls on actual phones? The Pew study claims that 7 percent of American adult cell phone users have made a video call on their cell phone. I remain skeptical about that number because not many phones have video calling capabilities, and even when they do the video call only works when you are calling someone else who also has a phone with that feature.
So that would include anyone with an iPhone 4 or certain Android phones with front-facing cameras. Throw in some Nokias as well and it’s hard to get to an installed base of 7 percent of U.S. cell phones that can even make a video call. And then, not everyone will use the feature just because it is on their phone. But I supposes it is possible. I double-checked with Pew and they stick by their numbers. (Note, their numbers are only based on responses to their survey, not mobile market share figures).
I know I do a lot more video calls just on Skype, although I use the screensharing feature much more. For most calls, I really don’t need to see the other person. It makes the call take longer. But as video callingbecomes a standard feature of cell phones, I can see the 7 percent number becoming a reality and growing. How often do you make video phone calls? Do you even want to? (Try not to think of all those Apple FaceTime ads before answering).