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Why Video Calling Is a Wasted Feature In the UK

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the stiff-upper-lips-hard-to-animate dept.

Communications 232

An anonymous reader writes "Technology affects the way we live but sociocultural influences also dictate what technology we absorb into our day-to-day lives. Take video calling on the iPhone 4 for example; it was pitched as an impressive feature, but will people adopt it? According to one British writer, the UK is unlikely to start making lots of video calls because it's awkward and, well, not very British. 'It's not the way we look when we say them, but the way we say them in order to inject the most bile into a negative statement. Or, on our more enthusiastic days, finding the most wryly witty way to say something while indicating that you couldn't really care less about it. This is the reason we've taken so well to Twitter and are better at watching than creating YouTube videos, to put it in sweepingly generic Internet terms.'"

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ha (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547488)

Why would I start video calling on the Johnie come lately iPhone 4.
That has been available on other devices such as the Nokia N900 for a while.

Re:ha (3, Informative)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547964)

Front facing cameras and video conferencing have been on almost every 3G capable phone since circa 2003.

It has never really taken off in the UK, it is cool to show someone something, but it costs 50p per minute, so people have never bothered.

Re:ha (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548048)

It's actually quite a bit cheaper now. I looked at the prices a few month ago, and it was only slightly more expensive to make an in-network video call than a voice call. My last two phones have both supported it, but I've never used it.

The problem with video calling rom a mobile phone is that a mobile phone is, well, mobile. You use it while walking around. Even in your own house, you don't often sit or stand still somewhere and make a call. This completely messes up video calling.

The problem with video calling in general is that you need to be awake, dressed, and looking approximately human to use it. My current laptop has a front-facing camera too, but the only time that I've used it for videoconferencing (which, unlike the iPhone version, is completely free) has been to connect remote people to someone giving a talk. Even when I had a long-distance girlfriend, we rarely used video calls, because you can leave a voice call on speaker in the background, but having a video of a person's head seems weird and makes it seem rude if you get up from the computer for a bit.

British Teeth (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548138)

Who the hell wants to look at those things?

Re:British Teeth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548166)

British Dentists?

Re:British Teeth (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548284)

They have dentists????

Re:British Teeth (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548376)

Yeah, but they charge money, so we tend not to bother until we have a toothache.

Re:British Teeth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548394)

Yeah, but Americans would be too fat to get in the chair.

Yadda Yadda. Yawn.

Re:ha (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548382)

That has been available on other devices such as the Nokia N900 for a while.

... Well, for a few weeks anyway, since the last software update that activated Skype video calling. Unless I've overlooked something?

I don't honestly have much use for video calling either. Once you get over the whole OMG I'M LIVING IN TEH FUTURE thing, video phone is just kind of awkward. Give me a Thunderbirds-style SOUND ONLY SELECTED card to put up and I'll be happy.

face for radio (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547498)

I guess the British all have great radio faces.

Re:face for radio (2, Funny)

shermozle (126249) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547912)

I swear my first thought when reading this summary was "Of course, NHS dentistry!"

Re:face for radio (2, Funny)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548170)

How can you blame something which, essentialy, doesn't exist?

Re:face for radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548072)

Mod parent up. Case in point [blogspot.com] .

Awkward? (3, Insightful)

tenco (773732) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547504)

Well, it is. Because you're not smiling in the camera but your peers face - which hasn't a camera behind it but above/besides it. So it always seems that your peer is intentionally avoiding looking at you.

You're thinking laptop camera though (2, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547550)

There's enough of a separation between the frame of a laptop (where the camera lives) and the video you are watching, that the direction of eyesight being different is noticeable.

With a mobile device, it seems like it would look a lot more like the person was looking at you, rather than offscreen.

Re:You're thinking laptop camera though (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548298)

You are probably partly right. It obviously depends on the size of an object as well as the distance to the object containing the screen & camera. If you've got a camera on top - probably the most used configuration since it's less likely to be blocked - then the angle is directly related to the percentage of your vertical view of the object. I can imagine that a person will have more distance between the eye and a laptop screen than between the eye and telephone screen most of the time.

Of course, once you get really close you will get pretty weird angles (and probably a relatively large forehead & nose).

Re:Awkward? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547576)

Bingo. Teleconferencing usability tests always find this as profoundly unnerving to users; hence the trend to place the camera as close to the screen as possible.

Re:Awkward? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547798)

Nah. The whole point of this is that people like not having intimate connections as in face-to-face conversation. Let's 'em get away with being selfish, apathetic, condescending and whatnot.

Nowdays everything is chickenshittedly done by proxy. Why need the balls to do something as simple as look into a person's eyes beforehand?

Re:Awkward? (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547928)

Nowdays everything is chickenshittedly done by proxy. Why need the balls to do something as simple as look into a person's eyes beforehand?

It's a lot easier to lie to someone you're looking at because you can learn how to position your eyes/faces/hands/etc in such a way as to gain their trust. If the other party is just hearing you then they have a lot less to go on other than the content of your words.

Sure, not everyone knows how to lie with their faces, and a few people would be caught out. But these people aren't the ones who make it their business to fuck others over on a daily basis for their benefit, so aren't the ones to watch out for.

Re:Awkward? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548024)

It's a lot easier to lie to someone you're looking at because you can learn how to position your eyes/faces/hands/etc in such a way as to gain their trust.

Body language in general helps people get away with lots of things that don't transfer well over phone/e-mail/letters. Whether it's lying, bullshitting, persuading, or otherwise.

But on the converse, what the grandparent said is also true. It's easier to tell a lie to a piece of paper then it is to a person assuming you have any amount of empathy. If you lack empathy, then you'll be able to lie equally well to both.

Re:Awkward? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548356)

Oh come now, you silly little thing, you know that's an over simplification. I for one am perfectly capable of an intimate connection, I just can't be bothered.

Re:Awkward? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548070)

Try looking at someone's forehead above their eyes when you're talking with them. Then ask them if you are looking at their eyes.

It is pretty impossible to know if someone is looking at your eyes or forehead. Therefore I think it won't be such a problem with cell phones.

The above trick is also pretty good if you don't want to stare at someone's eyes but you don't also want to start looking around either.

Maybe they can invent avatars for your teeth? (4, Insightful)

linzeal (197905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547506)

Seriously though, it is not taking off in the United States either. Skype was installed, setup and demonstrated on at least a dozen of my family's laptops this Christmas and the only person that uses it is my Sister. The reasons I have been given is that they don't want to be seen as fat, unshaven or unclean or that they would rather talk on the phone because they don't want to sound weird. Older people seem to think it is a gimmick and young people would rather text you and 5 other people than give you your full attention on a video link.

Proximity and usability (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547600)

I think the difference that will explain adoption is this - the degree of usability and proximity.

With Skype, you have to launch the application. Then the other person has to be running skype - if they are not a skype user they are probably not going to do so. Then you have to arrange to have a time when they will run skype, and in the end wasn't a phone call just easier? I don't use skype video calling for just this reason.

Furthermore, you can call someone with a phone in your pocket when you have to go to a laptop or desktop to make a video call. Again, the phone call (or text) is simply easier.

But by the looks of things Apple has again, taken an idea that has been around for some time and made it easy enough to use that the level of convenience is nearly the same as a phone call. By the looks of things it's just another option when you are calling someone (and on WiFi), a video option appears and you are video conferencing. There's no setup by the end user, and they can video chat on the device they always have with them.

That leaves the other factors remaining - will people want to receive video calls at random times? When it's as easy to video as call, will people do so? That remains to be seen. But the first, necessary, step to adoption was to make it no harder than a phone call.

Re:Proximity and usability (5, Insightful)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547720)

One thing I like about voice-only on phone calls is that I can be naked, and the other person has no idea whatsoever.

The same goes for Internet forums.

Re:Proximity and usability (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547944)

One thing I like about voice-only on phone calls is that I can imagine the other person naked, and there's nothing to prove me wrong.

The same goes for Internet forums.

Re:Proximity and usability (1)

Zuriel (1760072) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548084)

I've attended University tutorials in my underwear. God bless the internet and online tutorials.

Re:Proximity and usability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548176)

One thing I like about voice-only on phone calls is that I can be naked, and the other person has no idea whatsoever.

Funny, the one thing I like about video phone calls is that the other person can be naked, and I certainly know about it!

Too bad there's no way to get porn on the iPhone...

Re:Proximity and usability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548420)

well, now they know. creeper.

Re:Proximity and usability (1)

jisatsusha (755173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547952)

With Skype, you have to launch the application. Then the other person has to be running skype - if they are not a skype user they are probably not going to do so. Then you have to arrange to have a time when they will run skype, and in the end wasn't a phone call just easier?

With this FaceTime thing, you both need to have an iPhone 4, and you both need to have be connected to WiFi. I fail to see how this is more convenient.

Re:Proximity and usability (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548416)

But by the looks of things Apple has again, taken an idea that has been around for some time and made it easy enough to use that the level of convenience is nearly the same as a phone call.

3G phones supporting video calling have been around in the UK for ages (5 years?). It's very easy to make a video call: you find the contact in the address book, and instead of pressing Menu--Call or Menu--Message, you press Menu--Video Call. Still no one uses it.

For example, here's an article from 2006 noting that video calling hasn't caught on in the UK: article [digital-lifestyles.info] .

Re:Maybe they can invent avatars for your teeth? (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547784)

We use skype all the time at the office as we're dealing with development teams all over the country and clients all over the world. All our computers and laptops have video cameras, but mostly we use it for voice conferencing. Even then I used Skype on my iPhone a lot as I never seemed to have my headset handy. I do video conferencing maybe twice a week at most between the President of the company and myself (CEO) and I think that was because he had Skype set to open a video link by default. I gave up my MBP to a new developer and replaced it with an iPad 3G and frankly the lack of video conferencing hasn't been an issue.

Re:Maybe they can invent avatars for your teeth? (4, Funny)

gig (78408) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547800)

The way you see British teeth is how the rest of the world sees US health. Yanks will need whole body avatars to hide their many untreated diseases and morbid obesity.

Re:Maybe they can invent avatars for your teeth? (0, Flamebait)

linzeal (197905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547878)

We like to sneak up on such creatures and photograph them in their natural habitat [peopleofwalmart.com] ; however, if there ever were a 'People of Tesco' page it would have enough Chavs to Walmart's fugly folk a run for their money.

Multitasking (2, Insightful)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547834)

I think the problem with phones is multitasking. I'm often talking on the phone while looking at something else, working on something else, reading, attending to my kids, heck, even going to the bathroom if I'm really feeling the urge and think I can get away with it. People will feel guiltier if their friends can see you're not giving them you're undivided attention.

With a computer, it's not QUITE as noticeable if you're also surfing while chatting (though you CAN still tell if you pay attention or if you're noisily typing away) but it's still a bit of a problem.

Unfortunately I'm an American (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547518)

and I completely agree with this article.

Broad sweeping statements are foolish (3, Insightful)

fat_mike (71855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547522)

And another crappy ad exchange to a crappy site masquerading as a "news" source is worse.

All in the marketing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547562)

But apple have "invented" video calling, its an awesome new and unique feature that all the iSheep will be using.

It must be said. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547566)

Offtopic or not, what it the glorious melted cheese fuck is up with the new BSA advertisements on Slashdot? Debate over copyright infringement morality and legality aside, advertisements for a whistleblower hotline making a huge point that you will be paid for turning in copyright infringement is really apalling to see. I know slashdot is a place where there are a lot of eyeballs that work in company IT departments and also contain many disgruntled employees with a massive overlap on that venn diagram, but this is whoring out your audience in a huge way.

This is worse than those lame Visual Studio ads that have been on the last month that seem to think faking and/or only accepting comments to a feed that are short blurbs exclaiming how great it is is somehow going to influence whether a developer or company actually tries it.

I know i'm not the only person who is seriously considering the wisdom of continuing to subscribe and donate.

Re:It must be said. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547666)

I can make money by turning in pirates? Where do I sign up?

Re:It must be said. (1)

mrsurb (1484303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547672)

There are ads on Slashdot?

Scratch that... there are ads on the Internet?

Re:It must be said. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547830)

Yes, i usually leave ads unblocked on slashdot as they tended to be unobtrusive and reasonable in the past. I felt supporting sites that i felt were decent was worth doing.

odd i know.

Re:It must be said. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548226)

The real slashdotters have a huge hosts file with everything pointing to 127.0.0.1
The new ones use adblock
the clueless see ads

Re:It must be said. (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548312)

``Offtopic or not, what it the glorious melted cheese fuck is up with the new BSA advertisements on Slashdot?''

What's wrong with the BSA?

Wasted and wasted (5, Interesting)

soilheart (1081051) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547578)

We've had this feature in Sweden for years now. It was one of these new "cool" features when we got our 3G networks.
So in the beginning some people used it for the novelty factor, but nowadays it's mostly used by friends who are bored and have nothing else to do than video chat =P.

BUT. I guess a lot of people with problems hearing still use and love this feature. And as a lot of phones have this built in and the networks support the feature, I wouldn't say it's "wasted".
It may not be used by the masses, but the most people using it really like and need the feature, and AFAIK there is no large expenses for the carriers/phone manufacturers. So it's not "wasted" as much as "only really usable by a few".

Re:Wasted and wasted (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547962)

Wehave had the feature in the UK for more than 10 years. However, at 50p (USD 0.75) a minute, it is most profoundly un-British.

At 5p a minute, the kids would love it.

The telcos are greedy rapacious scum, incapable of using spreadsheets or understanding that price elasticity is a non linear curve. If they had more than two braincells each, their shareholders would be setting fire to the board members as we speak.

Re:Wasted and wasted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548368)

understanding that price elasticity is a non linear curve.

Price elasticity is the relative slope of a curve, not a curve itself. You fail economics and being pretentious.

Re:Wasted and wasted (1)

TyFoN (12980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548044)

Yeah i don't get why this is called a new feature, my old nokia did this _ages_ ago over 3g. I used it a bit in the start since they had free video calls for the advertising. The fun part is that the iphone can only do this over wifi so its even more useless.

People prefer "normal" calls (1)

phonewebcam (446772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547588)

Its certainly not a guaranteed winner for everyone. I remember years ago a guy and his girlfriend in the office I worked in got a pair of Nokias that did this. At the start the novelty was fun, but a couple weeks in the conversations became stilted and, to be honest, hard work. Finally it was obvious it wasn't working and the girl said, "ok lets drop the video and I'll call you properly". From then on they were back on "normal" calls...

Re:People prefer "normal" calls (3, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547718)

Maybe the reason it didn't work for them is, from your description, it seems that they felt compelled to use it every time in place of phone conversation instead of when it makes sense. Eat pizza at absolutely every meal, whether lunch, dinner, breakfast - and you'd get sick of it too.

Video Calls will make sense on the holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother's Day, birthday, etcetera. They'll also make sense on other occasions perhaps when the boss wants to talk to you and be assured he has your full attention.

But a complete replacement for a phone call it is not. But then most people don't know what a phone call is either, so it's no surprise they failed at video calls.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrBtSz5RReM [youtube.com]

Videocalling brought to you BY Brits (1)

21mhz (443080) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547596)

What do you mean it's not British [freedesktop.org] ?

The obvious answer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547602)

"Why Video Calling Is a Wasted Feature In the UK"

Because no one wants to look at the Brits' monstrously ugly teeth.

Re:The obvious answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547724)

Nah - it's 'coz they might get call's from americans....

(I hope Apple have fitted a *really* wide angle lens on that puppy)

Uninteresting title! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547612)

It will never be used. Uk have had the video call option since 3g, must have been about 6 or so years back.
I remember trying it out with someone else, thought that would be cool.

Never made another video call again.

Its just another feature Jobs is adding years after everyone else has had it! iPhone 5 will probably have the ability to send files by blue tooth as its big feature!

couldn't care less (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547622)

note the correct wording: "couldn't really care less"

It's couldn't care less.... not could!

Apple made a mistake, I believe... (4, Interesting)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547630)

They are fruity....

And they don't recognize a trend coming at them like a freight train. We started using email for convenience. Now that has been replaced somewhat by texting. Now that has been replaced by an even MORE in-personal way of communicating - the most evil thing in the history of the internets - facebook. The "After school popularity contest." People don't want to have conversations with others - they certainly don't want to see someone and have the other person see them - that's what text is for. To me - this is a step backwards.

Also, it might be good to know i've already deactivated my facebook account, without any qualms - after all, I had "ignored" 80% of people on there because... well - I don't want to hear about your baby's every bowel movement because you are extremely bored....

And two - its a breeding ground for ignorance. I always posted articles that I thought were.. thought provoking - very few people commented, but WATCH OUT if someone says "I'm going to have sushi for lunch."

Maybe this whole thing is indicitive of something else, but I think it caters too much to the "me" generation... What are we calling them? Gen Z? I'll tell you right now, Gen Z doesn't want to look at people when they are talking to them, so good luck there apple - I think you just wasted money.

video telephony & facebook (1)

zazzel (98233) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547826)

Oh don't worry about facebook, to me it's just a useful way to not lose any e-mail addresses & get a somewhat prompt reaction. I DO post stuff I find thought provoking there, and yes, the average reaction is less than the conversations on sushi. But hey, that may have something to do with time. A short comment on s.o.`s sushi is maybe just a way to "connect" again without having any points to argue about.

About video telephony - you might just want to read David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest". Somewhere in the first 250 pages, there's a lenghty piece about the reasons why video telephony didn't take off (the book is set in a not too distant future, probably our present, but was published in 1996). The basic argument is that video telephony is stressful because it destroys the illusion of a telephone call, i.e. the illusion on both sides of attentiveness clashing with the reality that in fact, most of the time, both sides of a telephone conversation are completely distracted by other things or simply not "presentable" enough to be shown on video.

Bah.. (2, Interesting)

msimm (580077) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548104)

I thought the same living in my tech bubble in San Diego before the economy broke. It's easy too look down on things when you and everybody you know don't use it but after moving home while I catch up on bills I'm suddenly finding myself emerged in regular peoples lives. So I set up an account, mostly still ignoring it. There's a lot of senseless crap to it, that's true, but it is pretty customizable and all the device and other cross-integration does make it pretty convenient, even a little useful.

But when I realized I could casually hook up with old friends and acquaintances I began to understand it. There's nothing particularly 'me generation' about it because it augments rather then supplants real conversion. The landscape is actually richer for it, it provides small peaks at what might be going on, chat still works well for one-on-one or even many, but depending on the level of intimacy involved texts, phone-calls, drinks, dinner and all the rest still apply, just like they always did.

I don't mind seeing that a buddy of mine is off on a road-trip. He doesn't have to tell me every tiny detail of his life, but if I'm bored or it's a timothy day on Slashdot it's nice to have something with things/people I care about to poke in on. Or share a little something I might not have.

Sure there are kids who think it's some kind of friend manufacturing machine, but there were always people like that. And you know what, some of your friends send stupid shit, but you probably already knew that about them, don't blame facebook!

And just because you think X is super interesting, depending on the diversity of your group you might be a little let down. I put up a remix recently I'd done in a day, turned out great, but my friends and family don't even really understand what it is, I get one or two hits and no comments. But if I wanted praise I should have picked my audience.

People are always talking about technology X as being the next social downfall, but I'm just not seeing that apply realistically with facebook. It's not a perfect platform, but it's helping people bridge a little distance. Families staying a little closer. Old friends picking up on each others lives. It's casual communication at it's finest, but it can be whatever you decide to make of it.

My advice is to not add anybody and everyone. Just the people *you* want to hear from. It's a lot nicer that way. And don't feel obliged to do anything with it. If I don't have anything to say so be it.

The one down-side is I'm realizing I'm going to have to start taking a trips and visit old friends more often. That means actually taking vacations. Soon hell will be freezing over and then we'll all be in for it. ;-)

We also will be charged out the ass for it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547644)

We also will be charged out the ass for it. And, lets face it, there's nothing worth spending 1000x the bandwidth and 1000x the cost on in making a video call over a voice only call.

But over the internet, video messaging with webcam on wired internet is quite popular, at least as popular as anywhere else. But then again, you're not on a piddly little cap and a huge expense per second of use, making my assertion that it's the ass-raping of the mobile internet that stops video calls more supported still.

As to the teeth, at least they are our GENUINE teeth, not some artificial replacement put there by an overpaid failed doctor.

And our arses fit into dentist chairs better (if you want to get all racial slur about it).

Truly English (and perfectly observed) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547660)

In the UK, video call's over 3G have been around since the launch of the 3G networks years ago - and no-one cares. I've seen one mobile video call made *ever* - and that was someone in a pub in London demoing this shiny new 3G thing that had just arrived. But I've not met anyone since who gave a toss about it....

At home, over wifi, small devices (eg. 7 inch netbooks) have been able to do video calls for years as well (eg. an old EeePC701 portable, cheap, and came with Skype installed and has a camera & wifi - job done).

No idea about the US - the US always seems a bit behind the UK in terms of mobile tech (in much the same way the UK is behind Japan or Korea), so maybe video calls would be a novelty over there.

It is not an Apple invention (5, Insightful)

donstenk (74880) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547692)

The article makes it sound like a breakthrough by Apple but videocalling has been around for at least 3 years in Italy and has not taken on for a variety of reasons, the main one being that it does not solve a problem the user has.

Video skype is popular amongst families distributed over various countries mostly because it is free. I don't know, but I think international mobile videocalls are probably not free or cheap.

I had a Nokia e61 with a front facing camera for years and have not used it even once.

Dennis.

Re:It is not an Apple invention (1)

Meumeu (848638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548040)

The article makes it sound like a breakthrough by Apple but videocalling has been around for at least 3 years in Italy and has not taken on for a variety of reasons, the main one being that it does not solve a problem the user has.

Same here, I've had a videophone for four years. I'm pretty sure one day Apple will claim they invented smartphones...

Video calling has been around for YEARS (1)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547712)

Ever since first 3G cameraphone was introduced. I don't think anyone really uses it out of their cellphone. I know that a local telco here in Finland attempted a pilot project with association for dead people where they handed some phones and cheap video call plans - I mean, selling phones to deaf sounds like a great idea if they can just use the sign language over video. Even THAT didn't take off.

No one really wants to look at your face at least with tiny screen of a cellphone. Cisco Telepresence-style things where one entire wall is converted to a video display is a different story...seems to be taking off quite well.

Re:Video calling has been around for YEARS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547756)

Phones for dead people? Wow, can't even escape the telcos in the afterlife...

Re:Video calling has been around for YEARS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547780)

attempted a pilot project with association for dead people

The problem is that lighting in the coffin is just too bad for most cameras.

Re:Video calling has been around for YEARS (1)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547790)

dead people

DEAF people. Although dead would probably be even better customers if you can sell them a montly payment plan...

not just uk (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547734)

almost everyone has had front facing camera for over an year now, and like 25% networks support video calling. but still nobody uses it. we are just too comfortable with voice-only.

How is this article insightfull? (1)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547750)

3G phones with video calling have existed in the UK since 2004/2005. Ignoring the iPhone it's hard to find a phone which doesn't support Video calling.

I own a Nokia 5800 which is capable of video calling and everyone in my family is capable of making video calls, none of us do. I personally don't bother because holding the phone in front of you isn't as easy a having auto answer on my bluetooth stereo headset. For other people the cost of the calls is what's stopping them.

Whatever the reason it isn't technical, if I select a number in my contact list my Nokia will ask if I want to make a voice or video call. This iPhone "feature" like so many others isn't new or revolutionary.

Re:How is this article insightfull? (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547888)

3G phones with video calling have existed in the UK since 2004/2005.

3 launched in the UK on 3/3/2003 and they had phones that could do videocalls, as they did in all the other countries where 3 operates. However costs and the basic uselessness to look at somebody when talking to him/her over a phone turned videocalls into a redundant feature for almost every single customer.

The iPad WiFi-only videocall could be successful in a desk environment: you place the iPad close to your computer and you videocall on it while you keep working. You free space on the desktop and you get a large picture that never goes under any window. Unfortunately it's an iPad only thing and I don't see Skype or other players of the videocall business integrating it into their clients.

Re:How is this article insightfull? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547996)

I remember doing a couple videocalls back in the summer of 2004 when I was in Portugal for the Euro2004. I called my dad from inside the stadium where one of the semifinals was played, 10 or so minutes before kickoff. That's it, I don't think I ever made a videocall ever again.

But I found it funny that Apple is being touted as inventing videocall, when I could do it 6 years ago in Portugal. Seriously, Apple fanboys need to get a grip of reality, it's embarassing.

Re:How is this article insightfull? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548268)

3G phones with video calling have also been available in Australia since 2004 or even earlier, so this is not a new technology.
That said, the quality of video calls was always a bit iffy. shaky stuttery video with one at a time audio (if you used it you would know what I mean), and it came at a premium price much greater than normal telephony.
Over time the price has come down, (but still not to the equivalent of voice only calls) and the quality of the video signal has improved marginally, however it still has a frame rate so inconsistent and unreliable that using it as for communication is trying at best and a waste of time at worst.
maybe the need to use wifi comes down to a need to use greater bandwidth than 3g enables to get an acceptable frame rate, and achieve full duplex conversation (i.e. we can both talk and be heard at the same time !)
That said i still used video calling for quite a while until my family had all changed to newer phones that did not have a front camera.

There was no way, Zen there was . . . . . . .

Redundant (3, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547752)

Video calling is simply redundant in Britain. Wherever you are, you can simply say: "Mr. Policeman, could you please forward a copy of this surveillance footage to Mr. So-and-so?"

Re:Redundant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548184)

You read slashdot too much.

Video calling is a niche market (2, Interesting)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547776)

Why Video Calling Is a Wasted Feature In the UK

Is a wasted feature in most of the world, for most of the people most of the time. A grandma can want to video talk with her grandchildren, and in business settings can be also very useful, but for most of the people, most of the time, video just get in the way. My wife is now talking with her brother, that lives in other country, and they could video talk, but who wants to. She is playing MahJong while talking, and the brother is packing a suitcase (he has a headphone), so video would just be a damned nuisance.

My point is, if from the beginning of phoning, all calls had been video calls, we'd welcome the option of just-voice calls as a big liberation.

Who to video call (1)

Rufty (37223) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547786)

I can video call, so can my brother, sister and parents. We don't video call each other. My sister's year old kid, though, we all video call him and make silly noises and pull faces. He loves it. (And tries to eat the laptop, ah well!)

One useful application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547806)

Affordable video calling is a godsend to deaf people. I've seen folks signing to their video phones. It's not ideal since one usually needs to use both hands, so the phone has to sit on a table or some such, but still.

It never catched on before with hearing people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547818)

Ericsson tried landline video phones in some Swedish cities during the early 70's. People hated them. There were some scholarly work done about the psychology behind, maybe Steve Jobs should read those.

But then again. Mobile video calls have been very popular among the Scandinavian deafs and mutes since the early 90's. So there may be a unexplored market in the US and GB, albeit small.

Re:It never catched on before with hearing people (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547886)

those.

But then again. Mobile video calls have been very popular among the Scandinavian deafs and mutes since the early 90's. So there may be a unexplored market in the US and GB, albeit small.

Is it better for them than texting?

Vide calls, not in down under (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547838)

This video conferencing hasn't taken off in australia either, i think it's because the cost of use, why would you pay a few times more for something which doesn't really have a significant use, apart from the novelty of it.

Theres also the fact that australian telco's really charge a lot for mobile phone stuff, anything other than standard text and talk is really expensive.

generation difference and convenience (3, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547864)

Given that there are plenty of YouTube submissions from the UK I suspect the broad generalizations painted in the article are unrealistic. Also I have found some younger Brits to be culturally different in attitude(and wit!) than 30-something and older Brits.

I suspect cell phone video conference will not be widely adopted for other reasons. Mostly revolving around obvious things like convenience. Texting is convenient because you can do it more discreetly than a voice call, which explains its huge popularity with teenagers. Parents and teachers can't overhear a texting conversation, but they could overhear a video call.

I suspect video calls will mainly be used by horny teenagers so they can expose themselves to other horny teenagers.

Re:generation difference and convenience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547938)

So what you are saying is....that Apple doesn't support porn as a whole but does support kiddie porn? That may explain why people line up days ahead to get this tech on day one.. GOTTA HAVE IT.

Re:generation difference and convenience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548140)

Awesome! More Porn....

Re:generation difference and convenience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548348)

Also I have found some younger Brits to be culturally different in attitude(and wit!) than 30-something and older Brits.

Really? In my experience lives centered around gaming and the vapid narcisism of "reality" TV, social networking and mobile phones has made them dumb and dull. The culturally significant highlight is that naff pseudo-ironic recognition of their predicament - that they have no cultural identity of their own.

gimmick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547890)

There's no bonus to video calling and an extra cost in effort.

Seeing their facial expressions on the phone might help with communication, but only to an extent that nobody really gives a fuck about.

The effort of having to hold the camera at your face is just a pain, not to mention you wouldn't really want strangers looking at you at all and sometimes not even friends over the phone.
Its a dumb feature, and is only cool in sci fi movies.

Voice allows shared attention, more efficient (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547916)

A video call means you've got to stop whatever else you're doing and give your whole attention to the call, look at the person calling etc. I can see my dad loving this for chats to his distant and much loved granddaughters, I can see lovers enjoying being able to look into their loved ones eyes. Hey, just analyse when people video skype each other rather than audio skype and ask what the affordances are there.

For most of the time voice calls are about communicating a message, or negotiating a communication, rather than enjoying the other person's presence. If the call is about communicating a message then sometimes its more efficient to do it on a voice only call which can be made while I am walking to the shops, at my desk sorting out some paperwork, carrying out other such small jobs where I don't want to be occupied with holding a camera so it points at my face.

I am not sure these are specifically British concerns? interested to hear what other folks might think from other countries....

Facetime may increase sales in families! (1)

bknack (947759) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547934)

When I saw the demonstration of Facetime I could not help but think that I finally had a good reason to purchase an iPhone for my wife!! Secretly we'd all like our significant other to have an iPhone. Of course (being sensible) they don't "need" one.

Now we can buy them one!

Seriously, I think that this implementation of video calling has some major advantages over others:
1. You have the device with you all the time and it is ready to go with no preamble.
Other solutions (like Skype) require special equipment (a computer with video capabilities) and tie you down while you use them.
2. Having the second camera to show people what you see is actually pretty neat.
3. As with all things Apple, I suspect they have found the magic combination of physical hardware and targeted software that will make using their video phone a delight.

Deaf (2, Interesting)

elsJake (1129889) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547954)

I've seen at least a couple of deaf-mutes using video calls on the bus. I was quite happy to see technology used for something useful.

Depends on the generation (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32547974)

"unlikely to start making lots of video calls"
If you come from the flash based broadcast/IM with web cam experience, this is just what you want.
What is holding back to video networking beyond Apple's wifi/Apple to Apple like limits/lock down and your average telco's bandwidth rustbelt upgrade cycle?
Should a mobile device have flash support for any website to stream to/from, cam support for yahoo, msn, skype, voip, open ip and encryption support eg zfone?
ie a real computer made small with a dumb packet pipe to the outside world via any software developer, open or closed.
I dont think the problem is the "video calls" aspect, it seems to be the dream of a walled cash stream for 'upgraded' video functionality.
Telcos missed VOIP and data control, they are not going to let video streams escape a good profit taking.
When your telco has a per month lock in video call plan expect to see a talking points like flood of pundits, authors, celebs, presenters, photogenic nerds ect. screaming about the new, innovative must have video chat 'apps'.
Until then its a media holding patten to prevent talk of any video functionality gap.

If my wife is anything to go by... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32547990)

...most women won't use any sort of video chat unless they've done their hair and put their makeup on first.

Yet another iPhone add article (YAIA). (2, Informative)

cuby (832037) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548014)

"Take video calling on the iPhone 4 for example"
Videocalls where supposed to be the killer app for 3G phones. As someone already said, this was in 2002/2003. This was not accepted because of the same reason because SMS are popular. SMS are cheap, fast and more impersonal.
If it weren't data plans and social networking, UMTS still it would be serving voice and sms.

jolly good indeed mate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548080)

sociocultural influences ... pitched ... inject the most bile ... wryly witty ... to put it in sweepingly generic Internet terms.'"

what's the word, pedantic? overly british? snob?

Hardly new, still sometimes useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32548108)

Although I've had video calls in my phone for the last 3-years I've used it only a few times. Those few times have been on special occasions and the video certainly wasn't of my ugly mug. Still the few times actually made having video calls worth while.

Holding it to your ear (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548116)

The problem as I see it is that on a video call, you can't hold your phone to your ear.
That then means that you have to have it on loudspeaker (not acceptable when anyone else is around), or you have to have a headset plugged in.
Frankly, paying extra, making sure you look OK, and putting on a headset for a call is just not worth it.
We're just conditioned to hold a phone to our head when we ring someone, and I think that is part of why video calling isn't taking off.
Bandwidth is a big problem too - and most of the networks in the UK are cutting back on their unlimited data deals because they can't cope with the traffic.

It's fun (2, Informative)

fredrickleo (711335) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548162)

I had video calling on my last phone, here in Korea most phones support the capability.

Basically, it's not very useful for any actual communication but it can be fun. It's definitely a novelty the first couple of times you use it and occasionally fun after that (usually when drinking). I would say that most people use the front facing camera to take self photos, it's certainly a lot more convenient then trying to position a camera with only a rear facing camera.

2003 Called, they want their video calling back (4, Interesting)

AC-x (735297) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548278)

We've been here before, when 3G first came out in 2003 Video Calling was supposed to be the big selling point, but it never caught on (possibly because it was much more expensive than voice calling, possibly because people didn't actually want to see each other on the phone!)

Of course all the Apple hipsters will probably want to video call all their friends straight away to show off their new Iphone 4s, but will video calling actually last this time?

Here's one of the original Three video calling adverts.
http://www.visit4info.com/advert/3-Mobile-Video-Calling-Hutchison-3G-Network/8771 [visit4info.com]

Video Calling has Never Taken Off Before (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548294)

Video calling has been around for a long time, at least 10 years or so. It has never taken off before. Perhaps that will change now that the iPhone has it.

stopped reading at "sociocultural (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548338)

blah blah, videophones. It's pretty obvious why no-one does video calls. Who wants to look at pictures of the other guys earhole?

Children (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 4 years ago | (#32548340)

I've been loving skype chat. It lets my mum see my baby daughter and talk to her, even though we are on opposite sides of the globe.

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