Video calling has been extremely slow to catch on, but adoption is finally set to explode according to a recent forecast from NPD Group-owned market research firm In-Stat. According to the firm’s figures, 63 million people could be counted as active video calling users in 2010. In 2015, that number is expected to balloon to 380 million. “While the mobile arena is relatively nascent, it has fueled much of the growth in usage over the course of 2011,” In-Stat analyst Amy Cravens said in a statement. PCs will remain the most popular platform for video calling, but the technology’s expansion to smartphones, tablets and even televisions will also play a role in accelerating adoption. Connectivity is key on mobile devices though, and smartphone-based video calling experiences leave much to be desired due to shaky cellular connections. The rapid rollout of 4G LTE networks around the world should help to improve the mobile video calling experience dramatically, however. NPD In-Stat’s full press release follows below.
Facebook on Wednesday took the wraps off of the latest major addition to the world’s most popular social network: video chat. Through a partnership with Skype, Facebook video users will now be able to video chat with each other through the company’s new service… for free. The service works just like Skype’s standard video calling service, but video calls can be initiated right from within the Facebook website with a simple click. “A few months ago, we started working with Skype to bring video calling to Facebook,” Facebook wrote on its blog. “We built it right into chat, so all your conversations start from the same place. To call your friend, just click the video call button at the top of your chat window.” Facebook video calling will roll out to all users over the next few weeks. More →
Skype announced on Wednesday that its Android application now supports video calling on select devices. The application is particularly attractive because it allows mobile users to connect with other users on Mac, Windows, TV, iOS, or other Android devices. Skype says the app was built with a complete new redesign, too, which includes a new main menu, easier contact navigation, quick access to your profile, and more. There’s even a new “mood” message box that allows you to show what you’re up to or how you’re feeling. Skype for Android requires Android 2.3 and above, as well as a front-facing camera for video chat. It currently supports the HTC Desire S, the Sony Ericsson Xperia neo, the Sony Ericsson Xperia pro, and the Google Nexus S. Skype says it also has plans to roll out support for additional handsets in the near future. Hit the jump for a video demo of the new client in action. More →
Research In Motion on Monday announced a new video chat application and service for its PlayBook tablet. The announcement, which came from the company’s BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, marks the addition of another service that likely should have been available on the device at launch last month, but may have been omitted due to the company’s rush to release the device. The video chat app itself looks like it covers most of the core video calling functionality users might desire, such as one-click calling, incoming call notifications, picture-in-picture so users can see their own feed in a small window while the other chatter’s feed displays full-screen, and the ability to swap between the PlayBook’s front-facing camera and its rear camera. RIM’s video chat app fro the BlackBerry PlayBook will be available for free in BlackBerry App World beginning May 3rd. Hit the jump for RIM’s full press release. More →
With the ThunderBolt, HTC has delivered yet another “first 4G smartphone” following its EVO 4G for Sprint (and the often forgotten MAX 4G introduced in 2008). It’s the first handset to run on Verizon’s brand new 4G LTE network, and it’s an Android smartphone powerhouse that is easily the fastest smartphone on the planet in terms of data speeds. That’s not to say the device is perfect, however. The release of Verizon’s first 4G handset was pushed back several times, spanning almost two months, and I’m not so sure all of the wrinkles were ironed out even after all of the delays. But the ThunderBolt is finally here and I’ve spent some quality time with it over the past week or so. Read on to see if this is not only the fastest smartphone on the planet, but one of the best as well.
Remember your first Sidekick? That black and white screen… but oh, the AOL Instant Messanger. T-Mobile is back at it with a brand new Sidekick, though quite a few things have noticeably changed. For starters, this isn’t your younger cousins’ Sidekick Slide — Microsoft-owned Danger is nowhere to be found on here — Google’s Android OS powers the Samsung-manufactured device, and it’s pretty feature packed. The new Sidekick 4G rocks a 3.5″ display, support for T-Mobile’s 21Mbps 4G HSPA + network, a 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird CPU, front-facing video camera, signature Sidekick QWERTY keyboard with “pop-tilt” hinge, and is preloaded Twitter and Facebook applications. Two color choices, matte black and pearl magenta will be available from T-Mobile when the device launches “later this spring”. Pricing has not yet been announced. Full press release after the jump! More →
ViewSonic announced on Monday the immediate availability of its unique dual-boot tablet, the ViewPad 10. First announced this past November, the ViewPad 10 is an Atom-based tablet that features a 10-inch 1024 x 600-pixel touchscreen display, a 1.66GHz Intel Atom processor, 2GB of memory, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat. Most notably, however, it features a dual-boot configuration that allows users to boot either Android 1.6 or Windows 7 on demand. “The lines of professional and personal life are blurring, which creates a need for devices that are suited for both sides,” said Adam Hanin, vice president of marketing for ViewSonic Americas, in a statement. “The ViewPad 10 delivers just that by enabling users to merge business productivity with personal enjoyment anywhere, anytime.” The ViewPad 10 is available immediately for $599 (16GB SSD, Windows 7 Home Premium) or $679 (32GB SSD, Windows 7 Professional). Hit the break for ViewSonic’s full press release. More →
Apple’s latest media-rattling event has come and gone, and we’re now left to sort through all that magic and focus on the product itself. We also need to process any tidbits we might have missed amid the fracas. The star of the show was Apple’s new iPad 2, of course, and initial reactions are obviously overwhelmingly positive. In the end, we’re looking at a thin, sleek, sexy new tablet that will obviously sell like hotcakes. But is Apple’s new iPad 2 really the iPad it should have been? Hit the break for several key areas where Apple’s new iPad falls short. More →
With Apple’s iPad media event only a day away, many people are asking just what Apple is expected to announce tomorrow. We have heard rumors and seen purported next-generation iPad parts leak practically since right after the first iPad launched. Thanks to third-party case manufacturers, we have also been given renders and even physical mockups of the forthcoming iPad 2. We’ve tried to separate the nonsense from the plausible, and here’s what we’re expecting from tomorrow’s event:
- A much thinner and lighter iPad. We’re talking seriously thin.
- A slightly thinner bezel around the iPad’s display, making the device’s footprint just a tad bit smaller.
- A dual-core Apple processor, possibly named A5
- 512MB of RAM
- A front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for FaceTime HD
- A rear-facing 2-megapixel camera
- Support for AT&T and Verizon Wireless networks out of the box
- Photo Booth for iPad
- Availability within 1-2 weeks, new price points starting at $399 for the entry-level Wi-Fi model
- Announcement and preview of iOS 5 to be released in the summer
We’ll know definitively tomorrow just after 1:00PM ET, but in the meantime, chime in with your own predictions and wishes, alright?
Apple’s FaceTime video chat service for Mac exited beta on Thursday to coincide with the release of the company’s refreshed MacBook Pro line. It also comes bearing a new price tag: 99¢. FaceTime is Apple’s branded video calling service that allows Mac, iPhone, iPod touch and soon, iPad users to make video calls for free over land-based Internet connections. The service is free to use and the associated app is free on Apple’s iOS-powered devices, but now it carries a small, one-time fee on existing Mac computers. The app is free and pre-installed on Apple’s new MacBook Pro models, however. More →
Skype announced Thursday that it will acquire mobile video software and service provider Qik. Unconfirmed rumors suggest the deal will be worth approximately $100 million. Qik specializes in mobile video broadcasting and video calling services, the latter being an area that Skype has been particularly interested in lately. Qik emerged among a group of similar services but broke out in 2010 thanks to carrier and manufacturer deals that helped net the service 4.4 million new subscribers over the course of the year. Qik’s bread and butter is currently the Android OS, though it also offers clients for other platforms including iOS and Symbian. “The Qik team has delivered exceptional video experiences for its mobile partners and millions of end users across a range of devices,” said Skype CEO Tony Bates in a statement. “Qik’s deep engineering capabilities and strong mobile relationships will be an impressive complementary fit with Skype.” Hit the break for Skype’s full press release. More →
Google just dropped this bomb of a video on its Android YouTube page, and it is the first real look of the Android 3.0 operating system, known as Honeycomb. From the video we can see that Honeycomb is indeed only for tablets and not for smartphones due to the usage of the “Entire for Tablets” phrase. Google Talk video calling is a go, but the biggest change is obviously the redone user interface which has carried over Gingerbread’s darker, more polished and professional looking changes into what looks to be a very sophisticated tablet experience. Oh, and yes, there is built in video calling through Google Talk. Video after the break! More →
To celebrate the arrival of Skype’s mobile video chat on the iPhone 4, today’s Throwback Thursday looks back fondly on another ultimately fruitless attempt to popularize video calling: the AT&T VideoPhone 2500. AT&T had swung and missed with video calling before, but the introduction of the VideoPhone 2500 in 1992 would be the home run the company had been waiting for. Costing just $1,599.99 per phone or $1,449.99 each if you bought two or more, this puppy was going to bring video calling to the eager masses. Grandparents would be able to see their precious little grandchildren from across the country, workaholic dads would be able to video-call their kids before bedtime, tweens would be able to take sexting to the next uncomfortable level… wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves a little. But alas, no one wanted to pay an arm and a leg for a video phone, no one wanted to cough up between $30 and $90 each month for video calling, and in the end, no one was really interested in the service at all once the novelty wore off — just like we’re seeing today with mobile video chat. More →